How does car insurance work when you get in an accident?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • You should contact your insurance company immediately after being involved in an auto accident
  • After you file a claim under your auto insurance policy, a claims adjuster will be in touch with you and will be tasked with investigating your claim
  • The insurance company will make a determination of which driver is at fault for the accident. The insurance company of the party who is at fault will be paying the claims for the accident
  • Your damages will likely be for the cost to repair or replace your vehicle and for any medical bills from your accident
  • You will receive a settlement from the insurance company based on the value of your claim. If you do not receive a settlement or you have a dispute with it, you may want to retain a personal injury attorney

The process of filing a claim under your auto insurance policy after an accident is much easier when you have all of the required information.

Based on the information you provide, a claims adjuster will investigate which driver was at fault for the accident and how the insurance companies involved will pay the claim.

If you are entitled to damages for your vehicle or personal injury, then you will receive a settlement from the insurance company in the form of a check.

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Filing a Claim After an Auto Accident

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No matter who was at fault in an auto accident, you should call your insurance agent right away to file a claim. The insurance agent will be able to check to see if this claim is covered under your auto insurance policy based on the coverages that you carry.

Even if the other driver is at fault for the accident and you are going to file a claim against their insurance, you may still seek coverage under your own policy.

There is the possibility that the other driver’s insurance does not cover the total extent of your damage. In this case, you may have additional coverage through your own insurance that can help to cover the cost of the repairs for your car.

You should make sure that you collect information from the other driver involved in the accident, such as their name, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number and insurance company.

You should not leave the scene of the accident without gathering this information first.

Even if the accident appears minor, it may be a good idea to contact the police. The responding officer will file a police report, which you should request a copy of to be able to send to your insurance company.

Make sure you also get the contact information for the responding police officer at the scene of the car accident.

You should be sure to supply all of the information requested by your insurance company so that they can timely process your claim. Failure to cooperate during the claims investigation process may result in the denial of your claim.

Make sure to keep a copy for your records of every form that you submit to the insurance company.

As a matter of first importance, ask your insurance company about what the time limits are for resolving claim disputes and for responding to any information requests from the insurance company.

You should also find out if a rental car is covered under your auto insurance policy if you have to leave your car in the repair shop.

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The Role of Your Deductible

If you have a deductible, you will be responsible for paying that amount out of your own pocket for your claim. However, deductibles only apply to property damage in an auto accident, and they do not apply to liability claims.

If you are found liable or at fault in a car accident, then you will not have to pay a deductible for your auto insurance company to pay out the claim from the other driver.

Receiving an Estimate of the Cost of Repair

The claims adjuster will determine an estimate of the cost to repair your car. You do not necessarily have to accept the estimate from the claims adjuster if you think it is too low.

You can also have another mechanic evaluate the damage to your car and provide an estimate of the cost of repair. You have the option to have your car repaired at the shop of your choice as long as the repair estimate is reasonable.

Settling Your Claim

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It is important to remember that you do not have to accept the first settlement offer that the insurance company gives you if you believe it is too low.

You should be able to present legitimate reasons why you think the offer is too low as well as request that the claims adjuster justify the low offer. Make sure that you get the settlement offer in writing and retain a copy.

What to Do When the Insurance Company Refuses to Settle Your Claim

It is best to try to resolve your disagreement with the insurance company over their decision on your claim directly with the company. Having all of your documentation is a good start to being able to reason with the insurer.

If these attempts fail and you do not receive the settlement you think you deserve, you do have other options to try to recover your damages.

The insurance company has a legal obligation to act in good faith in trying to resolve your claim. If the insurance company refuses to pay your claim for damage that is covered under your existing policy, then you may have a claim for the insurance company’s bad faith in its failure to settle.

Pursuing a claim for bad faith against your insurance company is a matter of law resort and can be very complicated. The standards for bad faith vary by state law. It is best to retain the services of a personal injury attorney if you choose to pursue a bad faith claim against your auto insurance company.

The process of filing a claim after an auto accident is not difficult as long as you retain all of the required information.

Many times, the claims adjuster from your insurance company will settle the claim quickly, and you will be able to have your car repaired.

If you do not receive the settlement you think you deserve, you may have to negotiate with the insurance company with specific reasons why you deserve a higher settlement. An attorney may be able to help you resolve this more effectively.

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