If you were hurt in a car wreck caused by someone else, you may be reluctant to report your accident to your own insurance company or to make a claim. You could be worried your insurance rates would go up or you may think that a claim is unnecessary because the negligent driver is responsible for compensating you. However, it rarely is a good idea not to report your accident to your own insurance company. In fact, you could be reducing your overall settlement.
Why You Should Contact Your Insurance Company After Your Crash
There are a number of reasons why you should contact your own insurance company—even if you plan to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. Some of these include:
- Even if you believe the other driver was at fault, his insurance company may dispute this or other aspects of your claim. This could result in a lengthy negotiation process before you are paid.
- You will need authorization for repairs from your insurance company to be reimbursed for these costs.
- Your insurance contract could have a requirement that you report any accident you are involved in. If you fail to comply, you would be in breach of your contract.
- The other driver may not have insurance or sufficient coverage to compensate you fully. In these situations, you may need to look to your own policy for compensation.
- Your insurance contract may have a provision requiring you to report your accident within a certain time period to be entitled to insurance benefits. You do not want to miss this reporting deadline as you could be depriving yourself of the benefits you need and are entitled to.
- If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may need to file a claim for benefits under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Your Duty to Cooperate
If your insurance contract is like most policies, you are required to cooperate with your insurance company’s investigation of your claim in order to receive benefits. This can include providing the adjuster with the contact information for witnesses and your medical provider and a brief statement about the crash. You may also need to allow them to inspect the damage to your vehicle and pictures you may have taken.
Tips for Talking With Your Insurance Adjuster
Although you may have paid insurance premiums for years without making a claim, do not naively expect that your claim will go smoothly, especially if you need to make a claim for medical benefits or lost wages. You should be wary about talking with the claims adjuster and choose your words with care. Also, follow these guidelines when talking to your adjuster:
- Contacting the insurance company too soon. While you have a duty to report your crash, your first priority should be to obtain necessary medical care. It is also a good idea to wait until the shock of the crash has worn off and you are thinking more clearly to call your insurance company.
- Admitting fault. Do not admit fault even if you think you were. These statements could be used against you later. In addition, you could be wrong or the other driver could have been equally or more responsible for the crash.
- Downplaying your injuries. Do not tell the adjuster that you were not injured or were not hurt seriously. The fact is that the symptoms associated with some injuries may not develop for weeks or longer. You may not know your true prognosis until months after you start receiving treatment. Don’t give the adjuster ammunition to deny or reduce your claim by talking about your injuries in any detail.
- Guessing answers. Do not guess the answers to the adjuster’s questions. If you guess on important points regarding the crash, your answers could later be twisted or used against you to reduce your claim.
- Accepting a settlement offer. Most initial settlement offers made by adjusters are less than what the claim is worth. Do not accept any settlement offer until you consult with an experienced car crash attorney.
Unless you are only making a small claim for repairs to your vehicle, you should contact an attorney for advice on your claim and to be certain that you receive the compensation you are entitled to. Start an online chat schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.