Accidents can happen to anyone, which is why auto insurance companies are so cautious. No matter how good a driver you are, you cannot judge how someone else on the road is driving. An accident can be very trying, and more so, if you have to run after insurance companies for your claim. It is important to be prepared and know what to expect. The more you know, the better your chances are of getting fair compensation. The first thing you must do (if you are not hurt) is to assess the damage to your vehicle. Get the other driver’s personal information. This includes his name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, insurance information (name of insurance company and policy number). If possible, take pictures of the accident scene. Note the model of the other vehicle, its color, license plate number and vehicle identification number.
Report the accident within 24 hours to your auto insurance company, the other’s insurance company, or both. Once the claims adjuster contacts you, provide him with all details of the accident. He will want to know what happened: the names of people involved, the models of the vehicles, the severity of the accident, if anyone was injured, and photos of the scene. Based on the facts gathered and the investigation conducted, he will assess the situation and you will be paid your car insurance claim.
If a police officer arrives at the scene, take his name and contact details and enquire when the accident report would be ready. However, do not take the blame for the accident, even if you feel it was your fault. The other driver may have erred, as well.
Details adjusters are interested in:
A CLUE report is a kind of “claims report” that keeps tabs on what kinds of payments a consumer may get from car insurance companies. Any time a consumer makes auto insurance claims or other kinds of property insurance claims, they get routed to a central database, sometimes without the knowledge of the claim filer. Then, when a new insurance company is looking at an existing policy or issuing a new one, they can call up this report and easily see an individual’s claim history, including what company the claim was issued to, how much the company paid, and what the claim was related to.
Auto insurers get the CLUE report from the central database to find out about auto insurance claims history for a driver or household. These companies are in the business of risk assessment, and a CLUE report helps them to further limit their own risk when they calculate insurance rates. However, this often seems unfair to the policyholder: random information on a CLUE report, such as extraneous insurance data unrelated to claims, or inaccurate information, can cause an insurer to jack up insurance rates or deny continued coverage to the customer. Analysts have seen that this often happens: some wrong or misleading information makes a huge impact on how insurers view the CLUE report. This has some states working to limit the use of CLUE reports and reassessing auto insurance policies.
The auto insurance company receiving the CLUE report does not often have the driver’s best interests in mind. Commonly, after reviewing a CLUE report that includes past claims, the auto insurance company will raise the insurance rating and risk assessment, and recalculate the premiums accordingly, pushing the drivers cost higher. Even a small item on a CLUE report may lead the company to deny coverage after a policy term has ended or when it is near its end.
Consumers have a right to know when someone is using their CLUE report against them; insurers must issue information on how to get this document. An individual is entitled to their own CLUE report from a credit bureau or related agency. Consumers can also appeal data on their CLUE reports that they feel is inaccurate.
No insurance company will easily settle your claim. Make sure you have all the details and paperwork in order so that you are not made to wait for very long. Find the right place to get your car repairs done or ask your insurers for guidance. Remember, claims adjusters are skilled negotiators and could easily persuade you to settle for a lesser claim than you are entitled to. To stay ahead, ask several questions. The more you probe, the better. If the accident was severe, it is best to consult an attorney. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
It is just as important to know how to deal with the other party’s insurance company as well. Safeguard yourself with these steps.
It doesn’t matter if it’s obvious that the accident was your fault. You should never say so to anyone. This includes the other driver, witnesses, even the police if they are involved. Things like admitting that you were speeding or that saying that you tried to squeeze through a yellow light will hurt your claim. You’re better off saying nothing than making a mistake that will make you seem like you were at fault. Let the situation speak for itself. Having it on record that you admitted to being at fault in any type of accident will probably result in you having the whole liability slapped on your when it’s possible that it didn’t have to be.
The adjuster from the other party’s insurance company is probably going to contact you or at least attempt to contact you. You have to understand that a nice and friendly this person may be, that they are not your friend. If their adjuster contacts you, firmly tell them that you’re not willing or able to discuss the accident and you would rather they spoke to your company’s representative. Give them the contact information for your claims adjuster and politely hang up the phone.
The adjuster from the opposing company will probably ask you to make a recorded statement about the accident at some point in time. Under no circumstances should you do this without your adjuster’s help. Your claims adjuster is going to at least want to talk to you about what to say and what not to say. In other situations they may want this to take place on a conference call, or have you decline to make a statement entirely. Remember that anything you say in a recorded conversation is going to be on the record forever and it might hurt your case later on.