Quick and Easy Guide to Filing an Insurance Claim
Have you ever been asked, after being in an accident, if you want to file an insurance claim? And when they asked, did you look at them and think to yourself, “Ok I know what a claim is, but how exactly do I go about filing one?”
After an accident, the first thing you need to do is to review your policy and research how to file a claim.
What is an Insurance Claim?
We hear terms like “insurance claim” a lot, but if we have not ever had to file a claim, the process can seem complicated and can lead to needless worrying and headaches. A claim is a request for payment compensation based on the insurance policy’s terms . There should be guides and additional instruction available on your insurance company’s website that will help you understand the specifics of your insurance policy. After you have researched your policy, you need to decide if the claim is simple enough for you to file on your own. If it is not simple enough to file on your own, you may need an attorney’s help to insure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
The Unnecessary Worry
Let’s start with the basics. If you have previously filed a claim, you know that the initial phone call to your insurance company feels a lot like calling your parents and telling them that you accidentally pulled the car out of the garage… while the garage door was still down. You feel a sense of guilt–though unwarranted in the case of an insurance claim–that causes you to fear and put off the necessary phone call. YOU SHOULD NOT FEEL GUILTY. Why? Because either you, or the at-fault person, has been paying his/her insurance company for these very instances when you need their help to recover from an accident.
The Good News
Filing a claim can be EASY. Wait, what? Yes, that’s right. Filing an insurance claim is not as difficult as it seems. Receiving due compensation and negotiating with the insurance adjuster can be confusing and unpleasant, but the initial step of filing the claim is pretty straight forward.
Before You Call
KNOW YOUR POLICY. You need to know more than the name of your insurance provider and which card to pull out if you get pulled over. But you do not need to commit every ink filled page of your policy to memory. Knowing your policy just means that you need to be familiar enough with your rights as an insurance holder that you can make a claim and know what level of compensation you should expect in return. The insurance company knows the fine print of your policy and so should you.
Take a Breath and Count to Three
It is easy to panic after an accident, especially after one you have caused and/or in which you are injured. However, the best thing to do first is to take a second to RELAX, collect your thoughts and slow your heart rate down. This way, you can think clearer and act more effectively. If you are seriously injured then you will need to get to the hospital immediately. However, once you have called for emergency help and everyone involved is in stable condition, you should quickly gather the personal and insurance information of everyone involved, including witnesses. You may never see these people again, but the information they have to provide can prove crucial in your claims case, and you will want to be able to get in contact with them.
Be Slow to Admit Fault
This doesn’t mean that you should lie or cover up something you did. This just means that you should GATHER ALL INFORMATION before you admit that the accident was your fault. This isn’t like that time you backed into the garage door and called your parents. This time there are other people involved and the consequences may be a lot more severe than a week without TV. You may think it was your fault because you were going a little too fast, but it is just as likely that the other person involved was texting and swerved into your lane, causing the crash. In this case, if you had admitted fault before you learned that the other driver was texting, it would be hard to go back and amend your statement.
Just One More Step Before the Phone Call
One last thing before you call your insurance company: SEEK ALL NECESSARY MEDICAL ATTENTION. Go to the hospital and receive any necessary treatment before you call. Not only is this the safer way to go, but you will also have more information for the adjuster who is assigned to your claim. Meaning, you will already know the extent of your injuries, the predicted cost of fixing them, and what type of future medical treatments will be required to fully recover.
Filing the Claim
Now for that phone call we have been talking about. Having followed all the previous steps will make filing the actual claim easy. As soon as you have sought the necessary medical attention and have filed your report with the police officer that was at the scene of the accident, you should call your insurance company. When you do, the person you talk to will either gather the information from you that we just mentioned in the previous sections and file the claim for you, or he/she will give you detailed directions on how to file it on your own. This step needs to come before you make any repairs to your damaged property or before you decide on a future course of action. Different insurance companies have different ways of dealing with evidence and filing claims and they may want to send someone out to inspect the damage or gather more information on the accident.
What Happens After the Claim
Once you have made your claim, it will be processed and an adjuster assigned to your claim will tell you how much compensation you are qualified to receive. For advice on this part of the process, call us or visit the other pages on our site that deal directly with how you should deal with the insurance company to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Photo “Car Accident” copyright by Chris Feser.
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