Guide to Communicating with Insurance Companies after an Accident
Every state in the union requires that drivers carry some kind of liability insurance. Such insurance protects you in the event of an accident where you might otherwise be vulnerable to an expensive and lengthy lawsuit. At the same time, insurance policies can be difficult to manage both before and after an accident. Knowing how to communicate with an insurance company at all points in the process is very important.
Talking with your insurance company after an accident:
- The first thing to do after an accident is to get yourself any needed medical attention. As soon as you feel up to it, inform your insurance company that an accident has occurred. Depending on the policy, waiting to inform the company can result in reduced coverage.
- When talking to the company, tell your agent what happened. Do not hide things, even if you were at fault. Hiding things from the agent can result in reduced coverage. By the same token, cooperate in giving the insurance access to damaged property.
- Make as detailed a record of the accident as you can. Write things down, take pictures, and talk to witnesses. All of this information can be shared down the line when settling your claim.
- Likewise, keep a record of all of the medical and other expenses you incur as a result of the accident. The insurance company needs these to know how much to reimburse.
- Find out whether your injuries or your damaged property is covered under more than one policy. Depending on the circumstances, a car accident may be covered by an auto policy, disability policy, or more.
Talking with the other driver’s insurance company after an accident:
- When contacted by the other driver’s insurance company, bear in mind that you are not required to give them any information beyond your name and contact information. Do not feel obligated to provide anything beyond that without first talking to a lawyer.
- Insurance companies are known to offer low settlements to claimants soon after the accident has occurred. These can often be an attempt to settle the case for less than it may be worth. Talk with an attorney to be sure of your potential recovery before agreeing to anything.
- Do not provide information about your medical condition until you are sure of the extent of the injuries. If you feel pressured by the other driver’s insurance company to give this or any other information, you can refuse to talk to them or limit communication to narrow circumstances.
- When dealing with another driver’s insurance company, the most important thing to do is to seek the services of a qualified attorney. An attorney will help you organize the statement you give to the company and negotiate the amount of the settlement. Insurance companies are savvy, and attempting to negotiate with them without the aid of an attorney can result in a reduced recovery.
Managing Your Claim
- Be careful of where you file your claim. If the other driver is at fault, submit your claim on their policy. In this case, they rather than you will be paying the deductible. Consult an attorney if you have questions about the process.
- Insurance companies pay vehicle damage claims either by paying the money directly to the policy holder or directly to the repair shop that's repairing the car. If the money is paid directly to you, resist the temptation to use it for something other than repairing the vehicle. If you don’t, the value of your vehicle will be further reduced and you will be paid less money on the new claim.
- If you have had an accident, your insurance company may consider you too high a risk and drop you. Insurance for high-risk drivers exists, but it is costly. The best way to prevent this is to drive safely at all times so as to prevent an increase in premiums. Some insurance companies even offer discounts to drivers known to be cautious.