So, you’ve been in an accident and there’s damage to your car. You know you have to file a claim, but do you know how to maximize the experience? Here are five fast facts to help your claim process go quickly and smoothly.
- Understand Your Insurance Policy: Even before an accident occurs you should make a point of knowing exactly how much coverage your auto insurance policy includes, and what kind. You should also know the what your deductible is, and what your coverage limits are.
- Take Pictures: We recommend that you keep a disposable non-digital camera in your glove box for taking photos of accident scenes and damage to cars, but if you don’t have one, even the photos from your cell phone are better than noting. Be sure to include time-stamps whenever possible. This could be useful both for proving who is at fault, and for demonstrating needed repairs.
- Gather Information, Immediately: No matter how scared and frustrated you are after an auto accident, stop and take some notes. Use a note pad, or whatever paper is handy, and draw a diagram of the accident scene. Write down the name, contact information, and insurance information of any other drivers, and be sure to note their plate numbers and the make and model of their vehicles as well. If there were witnesses, get their names and contact information, so you can provide it to the police.
- File Your Claim Quickly: The sooner you file your insurance claim, the fresher the memories will be. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to leave out an important detail that could cause a delay in processing your claim later. Most auto insurance companies have 24-hour claim reporting hotlines, even if you don’t have their smartphone apps. Don’t wait!
- Always Respond to Questions: It’s not unusual for insurance claims investigators to ask you for extra paperwork (such as proof of vehicle repair), or for them to come back with follow-up questions. When this happens, respond quickly and politely – remember, they’re trying to help! – and return any paperwork promptly.
Whenever you’re in an accident, it’s a daunting experience. These tips should help you stay focused, so you don’t have to stress over the small stuff.