Filing your Claim After an Accident

If you have been involved in a car accident you will most likely have to deal with your insurance agent. This article will provide you with some do's and don'ts of filing your claim after an accident.

DO evaluate the damage and see if you should really file a claim

All claims are recorded in your insurance record will inevitably raise your premium. Evaluate the damage and, if you can easily pay out of your pocket, don't contact the insurer. A fender bender or a broken tail light can be fixed with something in the range of $100 – a clean insurance record is worth much more than this!

DON'T accept payments as final settlements unless you know what you are doing

Have the damages thoroughly evaluated before accepting any check as a full and final payment. Some insurers will try to underestimate the damages and you may end up paying more out of your pocket. Conduct your own evaluation and have an independent party assess the damages. Match that figure against what the insurer told you and only then accept any form of compensation.

DO contact your insurer as soon as possible

Accidents are stressful moments, but you don't want to put off the moment when you contact your insurer. If possible, try to call in right after the incident, when police officers are at the scene. Have a legal representative talk to your insurer, as they will be able to give more details and do it accurately.

DON'T sign any waivers or releases

Unscrupulous people will try to take advantage of the fact that you are under a lot of stress after the accident and trick you into signing documents where you will be waiving your rights. Don't sign such papers unless you know what you are doing. If you have the slightest doubt about any legal document, consult with an attorney.

DO check if you can file more than one claim

Even though it's advisable not to have duplicate insurance policies, sometimes it can pay up to be covered under more than one policy for a certain incident. You can, for instance, have medical coverage under your main health insurance and one of your credit cards. Take your time and review all your policies and, if applicable, file claims with every insurer.

DON'T sign anything you don't understand

You will have lots of documents to sign once you file a claim after an accident. There is a lots of paperwork to be filed with both insurers – yours and the other party's – so make sure you understand everything you are signing. You don't want to waive any of your legal rights so, again, if in doubt consult with a lawyer.

Brace yourself, filing an insurance claim can be a long and tiresome process. Keep these easy to follow tips in mind and everything should run smoothly.