If you’ve been in an accident, one of the first things you’ll do is file a claim with your insurer. You’ll speak to an insurance adjuster whose job is to determine the value of your damages, review your policy, and pay for the damages covered under your policy. What should you expect during the insurance claims process and what can you do to speed the process along? Here are some things to consider:
- Always make a police report after an accident. Even if you think that there was not enough damage to legally require you to make a claim, it is always a good idea to make a police report anyway. If, later, the other party claims they suffered a serious injury, a police report may be able to show that the accident was minor. If insurance companies get involved, adjusters will want to see the police report to determine who was legally at fault for the accident. Sometimes this is clear from the police report, especially if a red light was run or if one party was intoxicated. In other cases, the police report can provide clues about how blame can be divided.
- Seek medical care. Always seek medical care for your injuries. In order to be reimbursed for your medical expenses, your insurance adjuster will not only want to see that you sought prompt medical attention, but that you also followed your doctor’s instructions.
- Take photos of damage. According to Claims Journal, after you have called the police and sought medical care, then it is time to take photos of damage to your vehicle or take photos of the accident scene. Gather as much information as you can.
- Record the names and insurance information of other parties involved. If you were not at fault for the accident, your insurance company will need the information of the parties involved as well as their insurance information. Your insurance company may seek damages from the responsible party using a process known as subrogation. Under subrogation, you give your insurance company the right to sue the other driver or his or her insurance if your insurance company pays for your damages, but finds that you are not liable for the accident.
- Understand your coverage. You have the right to enjoy the full coverage of your insurance. However, to enjoy the coverage, you need to know your rights. Insurance policies can have a great deal of fine print, but it might be wise to take the time to read it. For example, you may be entitled to a rental vehicle while your car is in the shop. However, you can’t always count on your adjuster to let you know what you are entitled to under your policy.
- Speak to a professional if you feel you aren’t receiving the coverage you deserve. If you feel that the settlement your insurer is offering is too low, you may want to consider speaking to a qualified car accident lawyer.
- Understand the adjuster’s role. The adjuster’s job is to ensure that the insurance company satisfies their legal obligation to you, while also saving the insurance company money. Insurance adjusters may use formulas and estimates to determine the value of your claim. In some cases, these estimates may use lower-range values to determine your recovery. Individuals may not always realize that they are entitled to speak to their adjuster if they believe a claim doesn’t cover the cost of losses or doesn’t satisfy the policy. In some cases, there is room for negotiations. However, if this your first time making a claim, you may not be aware of these tactics or even that you have the right to negotiate. This is why it is sometimes wise to speak to a qualified car accident lawyer if you feel that your recovery isn’t sufficient to cover your losses and damages.