You may wonder if you need car accident insurance to cover you in case you are ever involved in a crash. If the accident was your fault, you’d need to work alongside the other parties and their insurance company, which can add to an already stressful situation. These are the steps you will need to take at the scene of the accident to file a claim and what to expect after a claim has been made.
What Do I Do at the Scene of an Accident?
At the scene of an accident, you should do the following key things to ensure you are protected, per Allstate:
- Take a moment to check for injuries to your passengers and any other parties involved. If someone is seriously injured, immediately dial 911.
- Gather information from the other drivers, including their name, phone number, policy number, insurance agent, and provider. Take note of the time and location of the accident.
- You’ll need to contact the police after an accident. Some cities have a specialized line for this situation that you can reach by dialing 311. If your city doesn’t provide this service, call 911 instead. Never leave the scene before the police arrive.
- Begin taking photos of the scene. Take photos of both the other person’s vehicle and your own. Documenting the event will ensure no one changes their story later.
- Contact your insurance agent or insurance provider and report the accident.
How Do I File a Claim?
An auto insurance claim is a request for compensation when a policyholder is injured in an accident or their vehicle is damaged, per WalletHub. Insurance companies pay out over $170 billion in auto insurance claims every year. The basic steps in each state are similar, though you should check with your state’s insurance department to know how your state handles car accident insurance claims.
To file a claim, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. You will need to present the following information:
- The vehicles involved.
- The driver’s name.
- When and where the accident took place.
- A description of the damages.
- The insurance information of the other parties.
- The names and contact information of anyone involved, including witnesses.
You should make a claim if your vehicle is damaged or if you were injured during the accident. Each claims process will look slightly different based on the severity of the damage or injuries, what caused the accident, and who was at fault.
- Non-collision damage: If your car was vandalized, stolen, or damaged by weather, you’d need to file under your own comprehensive insurance.
- Another driver was at fault: In this scenario, file a claim with the other driver’s liability insurance.
- When you are at fault: Here, you will file a claim under your own collision policy.
- If the fault is shared or unclear: Contact both your insurance company and the other driver’s. When fault is decided, you should be covered under both policies.
- Uninsured or underinsured driver: If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or their insurance is insufficient, you will only be covered if you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection, or MedPay.
- No-fault: Some states are considered “no-fault states.” No one will be considered at fault for the damages in these states, and you will be required to file under your own insurance. If your injuries are severe, your state may allow you to file a lawsuit against the other driver.
Severe damage and injuries will complicate the claim process. However, if no one is hurt and damages are minimal, the claim will be a fairly straightforward process.
How Is Fault Determined?
Who is at fault for the accident will change how you file a claim. The at-fault driver’s insurance will pay for any losses. These are some common factors in determining fault after a traffic accident:
- Adjusters determine fault: The insurance companies involved will have adjusters process each statement of the drivers, witnesses, and other evidence when determining who is at fault.
- The fault may be shared: If you have contributed to causing the accident, even in a minor way, you could see a dramatically reduced reimbursement.
- Your insurance provider will represent you: If you are at fault and another driver sues you for personal injury, your insurance provider will represent you in any negotiations, settlements, and court proceedings.
- You deal with the insurance company if you’re not at fault: You could get assistance and advice from an insurance broker, but in the end, you’ll file a claim with the other insurance company, and they will provide you with coverage.
- Legal representation: If the other driver’s insurance is reluctant to pay out in full or is taking a long time to provide the reimbursement, you may want to hire legal representation.
According to TheBalance, insurers always determine who is at fault for an accident. The insurance company may surcharge you if you get a ticket for the accident or file a claim and are found to be at fault.
What Happens After I File a Claim?
After you file a claim, the process could take a while to complete and usually includes the following:
- Follow up with the adjuster: T he insurance company will assign you an adjuster. The adjuster will typically contact you for more information. Avoid speculation and try to provide facts when describing your side of the story. Give the adjuster any photos and contact information you gathered from the scene. The conversation will be recorded and used to determine fault. If your claim is for personal injury, you may want to contact an attorney before speaking with an adjuster.
- Evaluation: The adjuster considers and evaluates the evidence, your policy’s details, inspects the damage, and could make an initial payment.
- Resolution: After the evaluation, the adjuster authorizes a final payment. You must sign a release form; this is an agreement that the payment is sufficient. The process may differ depending on your insurance company and location. If you have any questions, contact your adjuster for more details.
If you believe the amount of reimbursement wasn’t enough or you aren’t willing to negotiate with the adjuster, ValuePenguin recommends hiring a lawyer to fight on your behalf. If you follow these steps, your insurance claims should be a breeze. For any questions, contact your state’s insurance department or your insurance agent.
Check this out if you need additional information, resources, or guidance on car insurance.
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