Filing an insurance claim can be a trying experience, but if you follow some basic car insurance claims advice, you will make the process go smoother and save yourself money.
Some claims adjusters are going to use terminology specific to the insurance industry in an attempt to confuse you into making decisions that won’t be in your favor. Know the terminology. Some terms and their meanings appear below.
Uninsured motorist: This is a motorist who either does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance.
Fender bender: This usually refers to a minor accident with no personal injuries and damages under a certain limit.
Actual cash value: This is how much your car would be worth, usually according to a guide, such as Kelley Blue Book.
At fault: This is the person who caused the accident.
Aftermarket parts: These are parts and accessories that you installed and are not available from the manufacturer.
If the insurance company decides that your vehicle is not repairable, it’s important that you know your car’s value. Knowing this is also important if you are filing a stolen car claim. There are a number of factors that affect a vehicle’s value.
The claims adjuster’s job is to get your car repaired and the claim closed as quickly and cost effectively as possible. Request documentation for all quotes and valuations to review and ensure accuracy. Remember to have patience, don’t allow yourself to be rushed.
Don’t rent more car than what you own. Chances are the insurance company will not cover the full cost of the rental if you own a VW and rent a Mustang.
“My car insurance claim is closed, but there’s a problem.” If you have a problem with a claim that’s already been settled, there are some guidelines you need to be sure to follow to reopen your claim and have the insurance company properly pay the correct payment amount.
You need to file a supplemental claim any time that you need to make an additional claim on one that’s already been settled. Some reasons you may have to file a supplemental claim are:
As long as any supplemental claims you make are reasonable and the steps to file are followed correctly and in a timely fashion, most insurance companies will pay it.
Time is of the essence when you decide to reopen your claim. You need to write and send off the claim letter requesting that your case be reopened as soon as possible. Be sure to also check with your state’s insurance commissioner’s office. Your state’s insurance laws may prohibit time limits.
You can use any of your favorite search engines to find the website and phone number for this office. Your state’s Insurance Commissioner office or Department of Insurance is the best place to start when you have any questions concerning supplemental insurance claims, or primary insurance claims.
If the insurance company refuses to reopen the claim or grant a supplemental claim, you still have options. You might try arbitration, if the terms of the insurance contract provision it. This is an option for settlement with many insurance contracts. If not, you may need to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney. Make sure the attorney you consult with is qualified in this area of the law.
While insurance companies can be a pain to work with sometimes with insurance claims, it’s also important to be diligent and thorough with all your documentation as well. Avoid these mistakes as much as possible.
Often times at the scene of an accident you cannot always see the entire damage. Sometimes damage can appear after a day or two of driving your vehicle. Whatever you do, do not assume that there is no damage to your vehicle. State that you would feel more comfortable taking your car into a body shop to ensure nothing is loose or damaged that cannot be seen at the moment. If you walk away from the accident without checking the entire car, then you may be stuck with repairs later that may have been caused by the accident. Without this documentation you have no recourse.
Some people feel that they do not need a police report because the damage is minimal and would rather pay for the repairs out of pocket. You are placing a lot of trust in the other driver. This person could easily report that you caused more damage than what was done or claim personal injuries when they were just fine at the scene of the accident.
On the other hand, you may be the person that was hit and they promised to pay for the damages, but later you cannot find this person and you are stuck with the bill. Filing a police report is documentation to protect everyone at the scene including the insurance company. If a claim is filed later you may have a difficult time getting the adjuster to approve certain damages. With no documentation at the time, those damages could have happened before or after the actual occurrence.
When you are shopping for car insurance make sure that you thoroughly understand what is and what is not covered. If you feel that something should be covered, simply ask your agent if there is additional insurance that you can purchase.
Auto insurance claims can run smoothly if you are prepared and have completed everything in your role as the insured. Your agent should give you an auto accident checklist. Keep this checklist in your car, and at the time of an accident, make sure you complete the entire list to ensure a smooth auto insurance claim.