About six million U.S. motorists are involved in motor vehicle accidents each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Car accident insurance claims result from a great many of these accidents, as those involved seek compensation for bodily injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses.
You should take certain steps to make sure you receive a satisfactory car accident settlement from an insurance company, and you should avoid pitfalls that could jeopardize your claim. In this article, we'll look at the major "dos" and "don'ts" of car accident insurance claims.
What to Do During a Car Accident Insurance Claim
- DO read your insurance policy as soon as you receive it, or as soon as you can after an accident. If you know what your policy covers, you put yourself in a better position to receive a fair settlement that covers all the losses for which the car insurance company is responsible.
- DO contact your insurance company as soon as possible after a car accident or injury.
- DO respond promptly and honestly to any insurance company's requests for information. Delaying or denying information may be seen as grounds for refusing your claim.
- DO gather as many details as you can about the accident. For example, taking pictures of any property or vehicle damage and collecting the contact information of witnesses to the accident can be invaluable in car accident settlement negotiation. Also, get the insurance information of any other person or vehicle involved in the accident.
- DO keep records of every communication you have with any insurance company, officer, or agent involved in the claim. Also, keep records of every communication with any other person involved in the claim. Each time you communicate with any of these parties, write down the date and time and summarize the communication. Keep backup copies of all written communication, like letters or emails. (Here are some tips for communicating with insurance adjusters after a car accident.)
- DO save receipts and bills for all expenses related to your claim. These include bills and receipts for repair work on a damaged vehicle or other property, medical treatment for your injuries, and other losses. If you're not sure whether an expense is related to your claim, save the receipt or bill just in case.
- DO review your other insurance policies to see if they cover the specific accident you were involved in. Some examples include homeowner's insurance, workers' compensation, or disability insurance.
What Not to Do During a Car Accident Insurance Claim
- DON'T volunteer information to police officers, others involved in the accident, or insurance company agents. Answer questions honestly, but stick to the facts, and never speculate.
- DON'T admit liability, even if you believe you were at fault for the accident. Fault for a car accident is affected by many different factors. If you admit fault, you may jeopardize your chances at a full and fair insurance settlement even if your behavior was not actually the cause of the accident.
- DON'T give any information in writing to your insurance company or any other insurance company before you have had a chance to review your policy, or while you still have questions about your policy or your claim.
- DON'T assume your insurance agent has the last word, especially when it comes to estimating the value of your claim. Do your own estimations or seek an attorney's help to estimate the value of your car accident claim.
- DON'T sign a release or waiver of any kind. If you've been asked to sign a document and you aren't sure if it contains a release or waiver, consult an attorney for help.
- DON'T accept any payment as a full and final payment unless you are certain that the amount fairly compensates you for your losses.