Car accidents are stressful experiences that can continue to cause headaches months after they occur. Auto insurance is designed to help car owners pay for repairs to their vehicle and other vehicles involved in an accident, but getting a check for repairs or replacement requires filing a claim. Car insurance companies may raise your monthly premiums or try to offer you less than your car is worth after an accident. Avoiding these penalties is a matter of knowing how to approach your car insurance company.
Ask your insurance company about their policies before an accident occurs. The experts at MSN say that while a company cannot immediately cancel your policy after an accident, they can choose not to renew it. Accidents may also cause your premiums, or monthly payments, to rise.
Contact your insurance company as quickly as possible after the accident. According to the experts at BankRate.com, notifying them of the accident if it involves another party or injuries will speed up the claim and repair process.
Consider not making an insurance claim. The experts at MSN say that accidents that occur without injury to yourself, and with no second party, may be less expensive if you simply pay for the repairs yourself. This depends on if your car insurance company will raise your premium because of the claim.
Provide proof of the value of the car if the claims adjuster values it too low. A claims adjuster is sent by the car insurance company to value the car and to determine how much money you should receive for repairs or replacement. The experts at CarInsurance.com recommend showing records of premium parts, regular maintenance, and quotes from multiple local mechanics or car dealerships if you receive an offer substantially lower than the car's worth.
Check with your local Department of Driver's Services to find out about your state's laws on car insurance claims. The experts at Edmunds recommend knowing your legal rights for compensation so you know what you can dispute and what the car insurance company is allowed to do.
Collect concrete data and details about the accident. This includes witness statements, police reports, and photographs of the scene. Proper documentation can be the main factor in determining fair compensation, and can prevent you from being found at fault for an accident you didn't cause.
Understand the time limits on making claims. The experts at Lawcore say that all car insurance companies require claims for both vehicle damage and physical injury to be reported within a specific time frame. If you visit the hospital for whiplash but don't inform your car insurance company until six months after the fact, the company is unlikely to cover the bill.
Ask your car insurance company to waive a premium increase if this is your first accident while covered by them, or your first accident in many years. Keep in contact with your insurance company during the claims process. Staying updated on the decisions of the claims adjuster or the estimated delivery of your repair check can prevent you from missing out on a deadline to dispute a decision.
Do not admit to liability after a car accident. The police investigation will determine who was at fault, and claiming liability before this determination is made can cause issues with your claim.
- Police officer at the scene of the Jeep and car road accident. image by Dragan Trifunovic from Fotolia.com