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Should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in an auto accident, there are some things you can do that will make the subsequent days and weeks easier to get through. Read on for some valuable tips for making car insurance claims.
Car Insurance Claims: Influenced by Fault
Even in states that mandate no-fault insurance, fault is still assigned by police reports and is used in settling auto insurance claims. The first rule of thumb is to never admit fault at the scene of an accident. Simply tell the police officer about your experience so they can fill out the report.
If there were any witnesses to the accident, they may be able to corroborate your side of the story during the police interview. If witnesses are willing to give you their names and phone numbers, they might be invaluable resources in a dispute with the insurance company.
Car Insurance Claims Require Information
When a driver files a claim with his insurance company, they want as much accurate information about the accident as possible. Some companies go so far as to provide an accident kit to be stored in your car’s glove box. It includes:
- Insurance I.D. cards
- A toll-free number for their claims department
- Diagrams for you to write down what happened
Using provided diagrams requires the utmost care. You want to fill out the form accurately, with both pictures and descriptions, the first time. If your diagram and notes are altered later on, it raises suspicion even when it’s not justified. If your company doesn’t provide such materials, you can create your own.
If you have a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of the accident scene as soon as it is safe to do so. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s certainly true when it comes to car insurance claims.
One of the most vital pieces of information you can collect is the license and insurance information from other drivers involved in the accident. Insurance companies have to interact with one another, so yours will ask you for that information.
Car Insurance Claims Require Honesty
Insurance fraud is the single biggest factor causing car insurance rates to continue climbing. According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a non-profit insurance advocacy group, U.S. auto insurers lost $80 billion to fraud in 2006. Furthermore, the Insurance Industry Institute estimates that almost 10% of the losses of property & casualty insurance companies are the result of fraud.
When we think of fraudulent car insurance claims, it’s easy to blame the problem on professional con artists who fake accidents in order to reap the financial gain. But it’s not just the professionals. Average American citizens commit insurance fraud every day without ever thinking about it.
You might know someone who had a minor fender bender, then took their car to a collision shop with a reputation for inflating claims. With a little bit of imagination the driver and repair shop can put an extra $100 in their pockets. That type of activity is just a fraudulent as what the professional does, and it adds to that $80 billion total every year.
Car Insurance Claims Require Patience
One of the biggest complaints against car insurance companies is slow claims service. This is completely understandable given the stressful nature of auto accidents. But drivers need to show some measure of patience while the insurance companies attempt to sort things out.
Some accidents can be quite complicated to settle. Since the insurance company representatives were not at the scene of the accident, they must rely on your testimony as well as that from police officers and witnesses. The more complicated the accident, the longer it takes for the insurance adjuster to piece things together properly.
If consumers want insurance rates to remain stable, one of the things they must do is allow their insurance company the time to investigate and get things right. If they simply pay out every claim that comes across their desk, they will be opening the door for untold amounts of fraud.
Making car insurance claims is by no means a pleasant experience. But, if you are willing to keep a cool head and do it right, your insurance company is likely to take care of your needs.
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