Car Accidents are one of the most challenging and frightening situations a person can find themselves in. Following that with the sometimes complex insurance claims system can make a bad situation even more challenging. However, making an insurance claim is something that many of us have to do at one point or another. The car accident insurance claim process seems more daunting than it actually is, and can be demystified with some basic information.
That’s why we’re going to walk you through some basics of the insurance claim system. We’re going to explain how to communicate with your insurance company, some of the finer points about the fault system, explain reimbursement, and then some quick information about how repairs could potentially be done. Auto accident claims are really not that complex once you know a bit more about them, and the process they require.
Continue reading for our car accident insurance claims do's and don'ts.
Do: Put Safety First
Whenever we discuss a topic like automotive accidents, we always start by reinforcing how important safety is. If you have experienced an automotive accident, you might have damaged your vehicle, yourself, or others. The first step always is taking care of yourself. Make sure any injuries are treated, and you’re in a safe, and stable situation before undergoing the insurance claim system.
Don’t: Panic About your Car Accident Claim
Staying calm is a very important part of life, but especially when you’re making an insurance claim. It can be challenging to be calm about a traumatic event, no matter who is at fault for the accident. You need to be at your best if you’re going to navigate the next few steps effectively. Gathering yourself and your information will be crucial here, so do your best to work through the process patiently and wisely.
Do: Review Everything Before and During your Car Accident Insurance Claim
You want to make sure you have all the relevant information if you’ve been in an accident. Collect all the relevant information in one place, like a word document. You’ll want to reach out to your insurer shortly after the accident so that the claims process can begin. Don’t delay, as you may only have one week to contact your insurer after a traffic accident.
Once you do this, you can begin to relax. You’ve taken the first step, and this was by a wide margin the easiest part of the process to mishandle. Your insurance company will let you know what the next steps are, but you can count on being assigned a claims representative, who will walk you through all the subsequent steps. This person is your advocate, so make sure you treat them well and communicate with them as much as is reasonably possible.
Do: Be Communicative During your Car Insurance Claim Process
The next portion of your claims process heavily involves your claims adjustor. They’ll explain what they need from you as they work through their tasks. The best thing you can do is be ready for them, and be helpful. They’ll ask for information about this accident, and your vehicle. Be truthful and thorough. Sometimes, you’ll have to complete a claim form that outlines your claim.
Once your claims adjustor has explained what they need from you, they’ll work through the claims process. Again, be patient. This can be a challenging process, but your best allies are the facts and a calm demeanour. If you have questions or concerns, your claims adjustor can explain what’s going on, and will probably have an idea of the general timelines for this and the subsequent steps.
Don’t: Misunderstand Fault
The at-fault system is a complex part of the insurance industry. We’ve outlined some of the basics here. To review, in Ontario, someone is always found to be at-fault in an accident. Fault can vary depending on many factors and can be shared. The factors are used by your insurance company to determine the fault of the accident and to help determine rates. If you’re found to be more than 0% at fault, an accident will be added to your driver’s record.
If you accumulate more than one accident or any accidents where you’re found to be over 25% at fault, you can expect your rates to change. How much depends on many more factors, but it’s a good idea overall to ask the details to be explained to you.
The at-fault system and its repercussions are the main reason you should make sure you’ve got your information straight. If you disagree with the insurance company’s findings, you can often challenge them. That process is even more complex, and outside the scope of this article, but we feel it’s important that you understand your options.
Do: Get Reimbursed for your Car Accident Claim
The next step is the part that most people who are making insurance claims are looking forward to, the reimbursement. This is the portion of the process where your insurance company will pay you. There are many determining factors in your payment, including the type and level of coverage you have, but generally, it boils down to one of two numbers. Either you’ll receive the cash value of the vehicle when you have your accident, or the price of repairs it would need. You’ll receive whichever amount is lower.
This should empower you to get your vehicle fixed, or replaced. It will get you driving again, which is a step back towards normalcy.
Do: Understand the Repairs
If you are getting repairs, you will likely want to start by contacting your repair shop and getting an estimate. You’ll pass the estimate on to your insurance company. If they approve the repairs, you’re ready to go.
Sometimes insurance companies will have automotive repair shops that they work with regularly. They might even suggest that you take your vehicle to one of these shops. This can be effective, as your insurance company will pay a close eye to the repairs done by one of their preferred shops. The repair shop in question most likely wants to remain in the good graces of the insurance company, as they will receive steady work if they do a good job.
Those are the basic dos and don’ts of car accident insurance. Now that you’re more familiar with the car accident claims process, you’re ready in case you need to file an insurance claim.