Dealing with Your Car Insurance Company after an Accident

Calling the insurance company: Nobody’s favorite activity

How to get what you're due under your insurance policy

Dealing with insurance adjusters is difficult. You will need to have all of your expenses in order, your options explored, and your ducks in a row before making that phone call to your car insurance company after an accident. Make sure you know what to say – or better yet, speak with an attorney before calling.

Insurance, by definition, is meant to help you in your time of need.

Unfortunately, dealing with a car insurance company isn’t always the easiest thing in the world.

Auto insurance companies can be notoriously difficult to deal with; despite their friendly, syrupy commercials, these entities exist to make money, not to help you pay for medical treatment or to get a new car. However, with constant vigilance, you can come away from the process with a resolution that both makes sense and financially compensates you for any injuries that you sustained.

Here are some steps for dealing successfully with your car insurance company.

Making the phone call

One of the most important things is calling the insurance company right away after an accident.

Many people will delay in making this phone call (and really, who can blame them?), but it truly is the most important thing to do after an accident. For people who have not suffered an injury, it’s wise to call as soon as you get home. Like, as soon as you walk in the door.

For those with injuries, it's smart to call after you get medical attention.

When you make the call, be careful not to say anything that can potentially be used against you, as insurance adjusters have a habit of twisting people’s words and hanging them on their testimony later.

Take specific notes as to how the conversation went, who you spoke to, their title, and what was said. You have certain rights in this situation, and contacting an attorney is a smart move prior to saying anything. He or she can let you know if certain topics are off-bounds or what would be relayed better through a lawyer.

Documents & Evidence Checklist
Checklist of 30 items to help you prepare for making a personal injury or accident claim
Download in PDF format

Gathering information on your own

It's important that you are honest with the insurance company, because not telling the truth will just hurt you in the long run and damage your chances of a potential settlement. Take pictures at the scene and note all damage. Even if you have to do so with a camera phone, it is better than having no visual record.

Accident Report Form
Sample post-accident report form to keep in your glove box - fill out at the scene or as soon as you can after a car accident
Download in PDF format

Keep a post-accident journal as well for your records. This will help to keep the facts straight when questions start flying later in the claims process. It will also help to build an established record for both the insurance company and the court, if necessary.

Exploring your options

For most people, the insurance process is a complicated one. You likely have one or more policies that could potentially apply to this situation and you could also have other warranties that might help pay for the damage. See if your umbrella package will cover all or part of your claim. Exhaust all available options so that you get the best possible deal.

Post-Accident Journal Form
Sample accident journal/diary to help you document the effect on your daily life
Download in PDF format

Settling a claim and getting credit for all expenses

If you want to positively settle your claim, then you will need good notes on all of your expenses. This includes cost estimates, rental car costs, and every other cost associated with the damage. An expense sheet like this one can help you keep track of everything. When you have all of this, you will be able to start the settlement process.

Damages/Expenses Worksheet
Damages worksheet to track expenses for your injury claim (medical treatment, property damage, lost wages, prescriptions)
Download in PDF format

The insurance company will send out investigators and adjusters. They will conduct interviews. You may have to stay on top of them in order to get your claim settled appropriately. If you are diligent in your approach, though, the process can be a positive one.

An attorney can help you through this process faster than you could manage it on your own. If you haven’t retained a lawyer yet, consider checking out the Enjuris law firm directory for help.

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