You’ve dealt with the accident, made sure everyone involved is safe, and filed your auto insurance claim. But, what’s next? I’m sure there are a million questions going through your head “What do I do next?” “When will I hear from the insurance agency?” And perhaps most importantly “Did I do everything I could have?”
The following article will help guide you through the “after events” of an accident and guide you towards the best returns on your insurance claim. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things you should know and do to get maximum return from an auto insurance claim.
1.) Check for rental car coverage
If your car isn’t drivable, check your auto insurance policy to find out it if covers the expenses related to a rental car. Talk with your agent to determine if you’re still liable for collision damage to the rental car, as it can vary by policy.
If a rental car isn’t covered, consider asking to borrow a car from family or friends for the time being so at least you have a way to get around in the meantime. Or, look into public transportation. Some larger cities have great public subway or bus systems, as well as car share programs.
2.) Review your insurance policy
Check to see if you have more than one insurance policy that can provide coverage for the accident. Many people have more than one policy under which they can file an insurance claim. In particular, look for “umbrella” policies, credit card paperwork, and homeowner policies. If you realize during this event that your insurance isn’t very good, you’ll want to find the best auto insurance policy for the future.
3.) Prepare for a phone call
After you’ve filed your insurance claim, the insurance company will call you to get more details about the accident. The phone call will usually be made by an insurance agent or claims adjuster. If your claim is approved, the company will send out an adjuster to assess the damage, or may recommend local body shop where you can get it fixed.
4.) Prepare for a phone call from the other party
If there is a dispute about the accident, you may get a call from the other person’s insurance company, who will ask you your version of the night of the accident. Be sure to record the details of the call and ask for the name of the agent you’re speaking with.
5.) Don’t give anything in writing
Until you fully understand your coverage, don’t give anything to your insurer in writing. You’re also not required to let the insurance company record your phone conversation. If you have any doubts about your rights, don’t be afraid to ask an attorney.
6.) Keep good records
As you’re talking with the insurance company or others involved in the claims process, make sure you keep a good record of who you talked to, when you talked to them, and what was discussed.
7.) Save receipts
Being overly prepared when it comes to an auto insurance claim can definitely work in your favor. Be sure to save any and all receipts that are related to your insurance claim, repair work on the vehicle, and any medical costs for treatment of injuries. Keep these receipts from the time of the accident until you get your final insurance settlement.
8.) Find out how much your car was worth
Research what your car was worth before the accident. Claims adjustors use a variety of resources (like online pricing sites and guide books) to determine the car’s value. Factors like registration, title costs, and sales tax are often figured in as well.
Since this can vary from company to company, it’s important you do research on your own and don’t just take their word for it. Check websites like Edmund’s and Kelley Blue Book to determine your car’s value. If the claims adjuster presents you with a lower offer, don’t be afraid to come forward with what you’ve found.
9.) Decide if you want your car back
After an accident, many people decide to purchase a comparable replacement or even upgrade to a nicer car since repairs can’t always return the car to its original state. Even if it can be repaired to a “like new” condition, it’s lost significant value because it was involved in a major accident.
10.) Get your car repaired or replaced
If you got a rental car through your insurance company, the agreement will only provide the car for so long. Soon after the accident, you should begin looking for a replacement car. Or, if you decide to repair your car, look for a reliable repair shop in your city. Some insurance companies will recommend places to use, but ultimately, it’s your choice talk to friends and colleagues to see which shop they prefer.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.