UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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We all know the importance of having an automobile. Sometimes, however, automobile accidents sneak up behind us when we least expect them to. This is why why have auto insurance. These accidents can cause extreme amounts of stress for all parties involved. Not only do we have to deal with the police, the repair companies, and being without a car, we also have to deal with the auto insurance company.
Often times, insurance companies will make it difficult for you to get the settlement you deserve. In filing claims after the accident, the insurance company might start to withhold money and make things difficult for you. If you want to be safe from these stresses, you need to know how to protect yourself in case you ever need to make an insurance claim.
What To Do Immediately After A Car Accident
In order to get the most out of your settlement, you need to make sure you do everything correctly from the get-go. You shouldn’t give insurance companies or lawyers any wiggle room to get out of paying your claim. Therefore, immediately following an accident, no matter how serious it is, you should call the police. In the United States, they can easily be reached by dialing 911.
After the accident but before leaving your vehicle, you should make sure you are in a safe spot. Often times, after accidents, people think that other vehicles on the road have noticed their situation and will get out of their car only to be hit by a speeding vehicle. Don’t be that naive! Busy roads are always a dangerous place to walk on. Make sure you are pulled off to the side of the road and in a safe spot before exiting your vehicle. If not, it’s best to wait for the police to arrive.
Once the police arrive, make sure they file an accident report. Often times, your insurance company will not take your claim seriously if they do not have an official write up of the incident. You should also make sure to exchange insurance information with any other parties involved in the accident. Be sure to grab their name, address, phone number, insurance company information, and also their license plate number. All this information will make filing your claim and negotiating a settlement that much easier.
Negotiating The Claim Settlement
After you have gathered all the information needed from the accident, call up your insurance provider and file a claim. Tell them all details of the accident including damages to your vehicle, property damage, bodily injury, etc. An insurance claim adjuster will then get in touch with you to reach a settlement with you and your policy provider.
If you have an opinion with how much you feel you are owed, you can write a demand letter to your claim adjuster letting him know the amount of money you feel your claim is worth. The adjusted will then respond with a counter-offer. Usually, you will be able to reach an easy agreement in this initial negotiating stage.
A lot of times, however, insurance companies will try to “low ball” you and get away with giving you a much lower settlement than you are deserved. You should never believe that their initial offer is their final offer. This number is not a fixed price. You can definitely “wheel and deal” to get a settlement amount that you believe is owed to you. Never sign any papers agreeing to an amount you don’t agree with.
If you believe their offer is too low, always go to a third party to get an appraisal of the accident damage. If they tell you that the value of your car and the damages sustained are higher than what the insurance company is offering to you, you can prevent this information to your insurance company. Another option you have is to file a complaint with your state’s Department of Insurance.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
If your auto insurer has denied your claim or you feel that you did not receive the moneys that you are entitled to based on your policy, you may want to consider hiring an attorney. While you can file a claim against your auto insurance company on your own, it may be beneficial to hire a lawyer if:
- You are trying to take on a major auto insurance company that is backed by a top-notch law firm.
- You have been severely injured and do not have the strength to file a suit on your own.
- You do not know enough about the law and are not confident in your abilities to take on your auto insurance provider.
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to go up against your auto insurance provider can improve your chances of receiving the compensation that you are entitled to. For instance, if you are facing very expensive medical bills that would otherwise put you in financial ruin, or you will not be able to return to work as a result of the injuries that you sustained, a lawyer can represent you and assist you with getting the money you deserve.
Tips for Getting the Most Money Out of Your Settlement
It stands to reason that you are going to want to get the most amount of money possible out of your settlement. Don’t assume that you will automatically get the amount that you are owed; in many cases, car insurance companies will pay out the minimum amount possible to save themselves money. With that said, there are ways that you can ensure you will get the maximum amount from your settlement.
- Determine the type of settlement you want. Figure out what type of settlement you believe would be fair. Base it on the amount that you think your claim is worth. Also, decide on the lowest amount that you would consider acceptable. Knowing what you are hoping to get for your settlement will allow you to determine whether or not you should take an offer.
- Don’t accept the initial offer. While it may be tempting, avoid taking the first offer you are given. It’s common practice for insurance adjusters to negotiate, and they begin their negotiations by bringing the lowest offer to the table first. Don’t fall for this tactic; especially if it is far below the amount that you believe to be a reasonable offer. Negotiations are par for the course.
- Highlight pain and suffering. Don’t be afraid to use your pain and suffering to your advantage; after all, you have been through a lot! Make sure you have documentation that can support your pain and suffering; pictures of the damaged car and your injuries, letters from doctors, etc.
Writing a Demand Letter to Your Insurance Company
If you are planning on writing a demand letter to your insurance company, include the following elements to ensure it will be as effective as possible:
- A precise statement of the facts about the incident
- A statement that clarifies why you deserve to be compensated for your losses
- A highly detailed list of any and all injuries and damages, including the cost of medical expenses and repairs for damaged property
- The amount you demand for a settlement
Final Word On Negotiating A Settlement
Most times, auto insurance companies will be willing to accommodate your requests. The insurance providers we work with here at 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com are all very helpful and all receive high customer satisfaction grades. If, however, you have difficulties reaching an agreement with your insurance company in regards to your auto insurance settlement, consider consulting with a car accident attorney. Most lawyers in the United States are more than experienced in dealing with automobile accident cases.
When lawyers get involved, auto insurance claims usually get settled quite quickly. If your attorney reaches an impasse, however, and cannot reach a settlement, you have the option of filing a lawsuit.
Here at 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com, we obviously do not wish any of this legal stress on you. The insurance companies that we work with are all very reputable and have all have simple claims filing processes. If you wish to switch insurance companies and find a reliable provider that you can count on, enter you zip code above to get started.