My husband was recently in a major auto accident. Another driver lost control of his vehicle and then, like a pinball, bounced around, hitting multiple cars. Luckily, my husband walked away without major injury, although his car was totaled.
This was a real test of our auto insurance company. With the wrong company, a simple auto insurance claim can become a nightmare. While we were not thrilled at the thought of purchasing a new car, the initial settlement offer from our insurance company was reasonable. We were then able to negotiate for a higher amount, as the value of our car (pre-accident of course) was selling in the “used” marketplace for a slightly higher amount. Surprisingly, the check arrived within a week. Our insurance company proved to us that it is a responsible company by paying our claim quickly.
We have since written a positive review of our insurance company on Clearsurance.com. But having gone through this experience, we wish someone would have given us more information about the auto insurance claims process.
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1. Note your claims adjuster’s contact information
Write down your claims adjuster’s name and direct line or extension, so you may share or get information quickly. (NOTE: Your insurance company’s adjuster is the person who evaluates and determines your insurance company’s liability on the claim. The adjuster will assess what is owed to you based on the claim and your insurance policy.)
If you have their contact information on hand, you can ask important questions as they come to mind. You can also give your adjuster information they need to evaluate your auto damage, the value of your car, and more within the limits of your auto insurance policies. If you have collision coverage and personal injury protection, this could be critical to getting your car repaired and medical bills paid in a timely manner.
2. Know what the auto insurance claims process is
If the adjuster fails to walk you through the process or timeframe is, ASK! Remember, this is your claim.
Independent insurance agents can also help by answering questions and guiding you through the process.
If you don't understand the process, the only person who stands to benefit or lose is you. You are your best advocate. You paid your insurance premium. Insurance adjusters have a limited role in evaluating your auto damage to decide how much you should be paid. There are plenty of things you need to do before and after insurance adjusters get involved. You have a right to know how your claim will be handled by the insurance company who you hired to pay your claim.
3. Write down key information
While you are speaking with the adjuster, write down what the process is, what the expected time frame is, and what the adjuster expects of you. Even if you think you weren't injured, you could accrue medical expenses later.
So make sure you take note of details in your auto insurance coverage even if they don't seem important now.
It may not seem like a lot of information initially, but when you later try to recall how many days you have for the rental car, its best to have your notes from that call (oh, and definitely ask how many days you have the rental car for — don’t get stuck paying for it because you took too long deciding between a Ford Explorer and a Honda Pilot!)
4. Maintain an insurance claim file and date your notes
Many people know you should get as much information about your accident as possible. Get witness information and contact information for the other driver. Take photos of both sides' damage so you can fight any mix ups later on.
You should also date every conversation with your insurance company. Whether you're discussing cost of repairs or medical expenses, your auto insurance company won't always look out for your best interests.
Even when they're not trying to cheat you, the best adjusters can’t and shouldn’t be expected to remember every claim. If you need to refer back to a previous conversation, the date of the conversation will assist your adjuster in referring back to his/her notes. This also helps if you suffer any injuries, even if they show up later.
5. Understand your insurance settlement
If you do have the unfortunate experience of totaling your car and receive a settlement offer, ask your adjuster to explain the settlement offer. Check the used marketplace for a comparable car to determine if you are receiving a fair offer from your insurer. You can look at common valuator sites or check your local listings to see what cars like yours are actually selling for. Then bring this data to your auto insurance company.
6. Share your review on Clearsurance.com
Not only will you help your peers who read reviews, but also the insurance companies who are, guess what, also reading reviews. By building a community of informed, insurance consumers, we are creating a more transparent insurance industry. Take a few minutes to write a review for your insurance company.
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The content on this site is offered only as a public service to the web community and does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. This site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an insurance company or an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter. The comments and opinions expressed on this site are of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the insurance company or any individual attorney.