By Michael Hancock
Auto accidents are never pleasant, especially when there is extensive damage. You’re put into the position where you need to be proactive in dealing with all parties involved — the other driver, the attending officer, your insurance company and possibly the other driver’s insurance company. Being prepared is key. The main objective of an insurance company is to pay you the least amount possible.
Although this may be an unfortunate situation, things could work in your favor, as long as you know how to navigate. Anticipating their moves could make the difference between getting the damages fully covered and not getting what you deserve.
Here are seven standard facts you should know that your insurance company won’t tell you if you are in an auto accident:
TAKE YOUR OWN PHOTOS
This is important. Having your own documentation can give you leverage on your claim. It’s best to take pictures of both vehicles and the surrounding area before and after the vehicles are moved.
This will support your claim of damages and will show proof to substantiate your claim in the event the authorities take a while to appear. Do not rely on photos taken after the fact or by another party that could potentially hurt your case.
INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE IN BUSINESS TO MAKE MONEY
You pay premiums to cover you in the event of an auto accident, but the main interest of an insurance company is to save money, not pay out. Know your auto insurance policy; understand your claims process and be prepared to negotiate. While they have an obligation to pay your claim, insurance companies are known to delay, deny or refuse to pay legitimate claims to keep premiums and increase their profits.
YOUR DUTY IS TO COOPERATE WITH YOUR CARRIER
Paying your monthly premium insures your protection against auto accidents. Your insurance company is legally obligated to investigate, process your claim and fairly assess your damages. As a client, you are obligated to provide them with any and all information they may need to process that claim, including medical records, authorizations and statements when necessary. Any information needed from the opposing company can be obtained from your carrier. If there are extensive damages, you may want to consult an attorney.
STATEMENTS CAN HURT YOUR CASE
The opposing insurance company may contact you for a statement. You are not obligated to provide one without a representative from your insurance company or an attorney present.
CLAIM WINDOWS AND TIME LIMITS
This may vary depending on your insurance company, but keep in mind – the longer you wait, the more you risk not being able to get your claim processed in a timely manner. It’s best to file a claim immediately after an accident, but if medical attention is needed, you must file within 14 days after the auto accident or you will lose your PIP benefits.
After a claim is filed, the opposing insurance company will want to settle the claim as soon as possible, trying to avoid possible litigation. Let your insurance company handle the situation, or better yet, an attorney. Make sure you have taken the time to know and understand how extensive your damages are, and whether or not you need ongoing medical attention. Do not be rushed into a settlement. In fact, most insurance company representatives will tell you that you do not need an attorney. That is because they know a lawyer will get you a larger settlement.
DON’T ACCEPT QUICK SETTLEMENTS
If your damages are extremely minor, this may be a good option, but if you have extensive damage and medical costs, do not settle. Seek the assistance of a Personal Injury attorney to find out what your options may be and make sure he or she has several years of experience with these particular of cases.
By keeping in mind these 7 simple things when dealing with any insurance company following an auto accident, you will be in a better position to make the right decision when speaking with your own insurance carrier or with the opposing carrier. If you have questions following an auto accident and you have difficulty with the insurance companies involved, please call toll-free or email attorney, Mike Hancock for a FREE consultation 813-915-1110 or mail at | Hancock@LawHancock.com. Mike is available 24/7 to answer your questions.