Odds are at some point in our lives each and every one of us will be involved in a car accident. We cannot control what other road users do, so no matter how safe we are behind the wheel the chances are still high. Whether your first accident is a minor fender bender or a more serious accident, it’s important you know how to handle the situation correctly.
When to File
When you are involved in an accident it is important to decide whether you should file a claim at all. If the damage is minor enough that you can easily repair it out of your own pocket, you should avoid contacting your insurance company. The reason is that many insurance companies will record every time you contact them with regards to a potential claim, and whether you follow through with the claim or not, the record will have an effect on your future insurance premiums.
Once You’ve Decided to File
If you have decided that the accident has caused enough damage that it’s worth making a claim there are a number of stages that you need to go through and information that needs to be gathered:
- Determine how serious the injuries and damages are that have been caused. Take numerous photos of the car damage if possible, which you can then show to your insurance company.
- File an accident report with the police, if there is no accident report it is highly unlikely that you will be able to make a claim on your car insurance. Therefore you should always get the police involved no matter how minor the accident seems at the time, remember some damage or injuries may not manifest themselves until much later on.
- All the facts about the case need to be obtained. This includes the names and addresses of all people involved in the accident, both for witness reports and to also help determine who is liable in the case. The police report should offer some insight into what their opinions on how the accident occurred and therefore it will be taken into account when your insurance provider decides whether to pay out on your policy or not.
- Many people get the attending police officer to make a statement at the scene of the accident. Not only does this help get your claim processed quicker, but the police officer will be able to give an accurate report of the accident, which you most likely will not be able to do as you are under so much stress.
Dealing with the Insurance Companies
You will need to file your claim as soon as possible with your insurance agent. Keep in mind the other party’s insurance company may also try to contact you if there is a dispute about the accident. Do not let them hassle you, especially if you are not at fault. Many will try to get you to admit liability. This can lead to a long drawn out process and could end up in court where a judge will decide who the liable party is.
Repairing Your Automobile
The final stage is getting your car fixed. This can happen in one of two ways; the insurance company will send out an assessor to record the amount of damage caused to your vehicle and offer you a check for the amount to repair or they will ask you to send your vehicle to a per-approved garage who will carry out all necessary repairs at the insurance companies expense.