If you’re unlucky enough to be involved in a car accident, here are the steps you need to take to deal with it quickly and smoothly.
It’s not a nice thought but car accidents happen and it’s important to know what to do if you’re caught up in one. If you take the right steps immediately after a car crash you can stop a bad situation from getting worse and help to make sure your car insurance claim is paid out without a hitch.
Never drive away from the scene of an accident, even a minor one.
PROTECT THE SCENE. You can prevent further accidents by setting up flares or keeping your flashers on. If it is dark and your lights don’t work, you should have a flashlight to keep you safe while you wait in your disabled car or by the side of the road.
CALL THE POLICE.
Even if there are no serious injuries, it is a good idea to call the police. You may need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company, even if it is just to make a claim for damage to your vehicle. The vehicles involved in the accident should remain where they are unless they interfere with traffic.
MAKE AN ACCURATE RECORD.
When the police arrive, make sure you tell the investigating officer(s) exactly what happened, to the best of your ability. If you do not know certain facts, tell that to the officer. Do not speculate, guess or misstate any of the facts. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say you are not sure, rather than no. Often, the pain and injuries from motor vehicle accidents become apparent hours after the actual collision. You should also make sure statements made by other persons involved in the accident are accurate as well.
If you happen to have a camera in your vehicle, or a cell phone equipped with a camera, you should take pictures of the vehicles if there is visible damage. If you have visible injuries, you should photograph them as well. However, you should in no way interfere with the on-going police investigation. If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the accident, take them as soon as possible after the accident.
Typically, the investigating police officer obtains this information. However, if the police do not respond to the accident, you should obtain the name, address, and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident, drivers and passengers alike. You should also obtain information about insurance by asking to see the insurance card for all vehicles involved in the accident. If there are witnesses, you should get information from them as well so that you or your attorney can contact them in the future. If the police respond to the accident, the investigating officer usually will provide all drivers with a police report number. You can use that number later to obtain the police report. If the accident occurs on a state highway, you must request the report from the state police.
REPORT THE ACCIDENT.
Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Many policies require immediate reporting and full cooperation. Find out if you have medical benefits as part of your insurance coverage. You pay extra for that type of coverage – known as “medpay” – so you should use it. In fact, if you have medpay coverage, you are required to submit your accident-related medical bills to your insurance company. Medpay coverage is primary for accident-related medical bills. Once medpay benefits are exhausted, private health insurance becomes your primary insurer. Medpay benefits are available to all the occupants of the vehicle. Your insurance rates should not increase as a result of submitting claims for medpay coverage.
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION.
Often, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Most of our clients report feeling the most pain a day or two following an automobile accident. Unless you are absolutely certain you were not injured, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or by seeing your family physician. Even in accidents involving minor impact, you can sustain a serious and permanent injury to your spinal cord. If you lost consciousness or were dazed for even a short period of time following the collision, you may have suffered a concussion or closed head injury. This can cause cognitive and behavioral changes if left untreated.
KEEP A FILE.
Keep all your accident-related documents and information together. This information should include a claim number, the claim’s adjuster who is handling the claim, names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for a rental car, and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS.
Perhaps the most important thing you should do after an accident is to consult your attorney. Your attorney can protect your rights and make sure valuable evidence is not destroyed. Often, insurance companies want to take statements immediately after an accident. It is important that you have received legal advice before providing such a statement. Your attorney can advise you on issues ranging from how to make sure you are fully compensated for your vehicle to how to make sure you are getting the best medical treatment available. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.
After an accident you want to be able to get back on the road as quickly as possible. It can be frustrating having to go back and forth with claims adjusters and waiting for anything to happen. Why does it take so long? Here is a little bit of insight into what goes into the claims process.
What is an Insurance Claim
An insurance claim is a formal request to an insurance company asking for a payment based on the terms of the insurance policy. The insurance company reviews the claim for its validity and then pays out to the insured or requesting party (on behalf of the insured) once approved. Insurance claims cover everything from death benefits on life insurance policies to routine health exams at your local doctor. In many cases, third parties file claims on behalf of the insured person, but usually, only the person(s) listed on the policy is entitled to claims payment.
A paid insurance claim serves to indemnify a policyholder against financial loss. An individual or group pays premiums as consideration for completion of an insurance contract between the insured party and an insurance carrier. The most common insurance contracts revolve around costs for medical goods and services, physical damage or liability resulting from the operation of automobiles, property damage or liability from home ownership, and the loss of life.
Why Insurance Claims Take Time
Both the claim adjuster and the claimant need to be available. Not answering the phone is a sure-fire way to delay a claim. It is a great idea to verify all of your contact information at the time of filing a claim. Double-check your address and phone number on file.
Not Happy With Your Coverage:
Thought you had OEM coverage but your policy says you do not? Coverage discrepancies can certainly extend the claim process.
Not Happy with the Body Shop Repair:
Don’t like the paint job on your repair? Does something seem not right? Rushing through to get your car back is not a good idea. If you are not happy with your repair, it is best to point it out immediately to get it resolved.
Natural Disaster Claim:
Did a huge hail storm just come through the area? Is everyone dealing with the aftermath of a flood? Natural disaster claims often take longer because not only is the insurance company going to be backed up but so are the body shops.
Short on Cash:
You really can’t get your car insurance claim handled quickly when you do not have the cash for the deductible. Deductibles need to be paid at the time of repair. Plan on holding off on the repairs if you do not have the cash to get it done.
Lots of problems can occur during the claims process. If major problems arise, talk with your insurance agent they are a great resource if there is a problem. An agent can contact your claim representative or even the body shop on your behalf to help ensure the process goes as smooth as possible.
What to Do if It Is Taking Too Long
Sometimes, no matter what you do, the claim takes longer than you would like. The best thing you can do is have a backup plan.
Get a Rental Car:
It may not be ideal, but sometimes you have to get a rental car so you can get to work and pick up the kids from school. Make sure you select the proper coverage to protect the rental car while you are driving it.
Why do I need insurance?
Life turns on a dime. One can never predict when insurance will be needed. Many people only purchase insurance when it’s required, like when they’re buying a new home or car. Paying for insurance now even if it isn’t required by your state or lender can be an important safety net if the unexpected happens.
Here are some situations when insurance could protect you from a financial loss
An unexpected illness
Even if you’re in good health, an unexpected illness or injury could require you to pay out-of-pocket if you don’t have health insurance.
Natural disaster or home invasion
Homeowners and renters face the risk of their property being damaged by a natural disaster or a home robbery. If you are not insured, it may be costly to replace all of your belongings.
Loss of a loved one
It can be tough to think about, but being prepared for the loss of an income earner is the best way to protect your family. A life insurance policy may help loved ones start with a clean slate by helping to pay off the mortgage, credit card bills, outstanding loans, household bills, child care expenses, tuition, and final expenses, like funeral costs and taxes.
What Happens to Your Car Loan After an Accident?
When it comes to basic auto insurance, it's worth knowing this right up front: Collision and comprehensive will not cover the cost of replacing your car. Similarly, these options won't cover any payments you have left on your loan. If you're buying the bare minimum legally-required insurance — and your auto is totaled — you should expect that what your insurance company pays out isn't quite going to make up the total of your losses. In fact, you may even wind up with a few payments left on a car you didn't even get to keep.
Your insurer will value your car based on a formula that will consider several factors. These exact factors are generally kept a trade secret. But may include the car's age, wear and tear, depreciation and MSRP. It is unlikely that your lender and your insurer will share an opinion on what the auto is worth.
However, you do have some options for total coverage in the event of an accident that leaves you holding the bill for a totaled car.
- Gap Insurance. Gap insurance can be a huge help in the event your car is totaled. Prices vary, but this type of insurance tends to only cost a few extra dollars a month. It will pay off what's left on your loan, minus your deductible. Most gap insurance plans will only cover you for the first few years, but that should be all you need to ensure that your loan is covered.
- Replacement Cost Insurance. This type of coverage generally comes with a higher premium. It can cover not only the current estimated value of your car but also the cost of replacing it. This coverage is worth considering for high-value vehicles. Even an expensive sports car begins to depreciate the minute you drive it off the lot, and it's good to know you're protected. Some companies even offer better-car replacement plans for those who drive older vehicles.
When it comes to car insurance, buying the legal minimum will help you to stay out of trouble. That said, it might not quite provide you with the peace of mind you're looking for when you have a big loan hanging over your head.
New to Cheapest Auto Insurance?
Life after an accident can be difficult but here at Cheapest Auto Insurance we are ready to help you get back on the road with the best rates and coverage for your needs! Call us at 918-744-5145 to speak with our insurance professionals to get a quote or you can click here for a quote online!