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After an accident, things can move fast. You know you must begin an insurance claim to start the recovery process and alert your insurer, but you may not know what to tell them or the proper procedures for dealing with an insurance company following an accident.
Understanding the role of an insurer and your obligations as an insured following a crash can ensure you do not make any mistakes that leave an irreparable effect on your case and the compensation you recover.
Insurance companies are quick to jump into the mix after a car crash, and you must prepare to deal with their attempts to contact you and any requirements you may have to notify them after an accident.
You may be wondering why your statements to your own insurance company could negatively affect your case. After all, don’t you pay the insurance company to protect you in such instances? While you are correct in your assessment that you pay premiums to protect your property, the insurance company does not work for you or have your best interests in mind at any point in the process. Insurance companies are a business, they will pay out damages reluctantly when they have to but they will not willingly hand over money without making it a challenge.
Your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company have one thing in mind. These companies want to close your open claim as soon as they can and save the company any money they can in the process. Do not feel, because you are speaking or dealing with your own insurance company, that they are your friend or want to help you get the maximum damages. The insurance company may process your claim but not get you the money you need. You need to fight for what you deserve.
If you have to be careful with what you say to your insurance company, would it not be easier to not speak to them at all? While this is a reasonable assumption, your policy may burden you with the requirement of notice. Most insurance policies indicate that an insured involved in any car accident must notify the company within a specific time. Your insurance company can deny your claim based on your lack of notice.
In short, yes, you must contact your insurer after a car accident. How you contact them, however, may depend on your insurance company.
In the past, the most common way to notify an insurance company of an accident was through a phone call. You get home after an accident or while you are recovering from your injuries in a hospital, you call the insurer to let them know you were in an accident.
The insurance rep will ask you questions, and you will receive a call from a representative in charge of your claim.
While this is still how it can transpire with some insurers and some individuals may prefer it, changes in technology and accessibility have created other options for you to notify an insurer after an accident.
Most reputable and larger companies offer mobile applications and websites where you can begin a claim with just a few tidbits of information and clicks of the mouse. This is not to say a claims representative will not call you, as they may expect to speak with you at some point. However, it does meet your obligation of notifying them of the accident and may buy you some time to decide how you will move forward in your case and to hire an attorney.
Just as in a conversation, be careful not to share information beyond what is necessary to meet the notice requirement through the application.
Ultimately, the reason you must move with caution when speaking to your insurer or any other insurer is that anything you say to these companies and their representatives will likely be on the record and used against you in the processing of your claim.
You may think the other party to the accident is at fault and that you have nothing to lose by speaking to an insurance company. However, fault is not the only area of concern when speaking to an insurer. Anything that reveals your potential injuries, your state of mind, and even your perception of the events and the aftermath can influence what compensation, if any, you recover.
The consequences of too much information or incorrect statements to an insurer can lead them to deny your claim. A denial of a claim can leave you with little option to recover any compensation in your case. Even when an insurer does not deny a claim outright, it can still cause you to miss out on significant amounts of compensation for your losses.
Insurers will pressure you to answer their questions on the spot even when you may not know what exactly is happening.
After an accident, you are likely still processing what happened and may not yet have a clear picture of your injuries or how you are feeling. This is not the best time to delve into the details of your accident or to say with certainty what your damages are.
Now that you understand the effects your conversation with your insurance company can have on your case, you can go over what exactly you must avoid speaking to your insurer about in your initial communications.
After much discussion about what not to say to your insurance company, it can be helpful to know what is acceptable and not likely to cause any disruption or challenge in your case. Notifying your insurer of an accident requires you only to provide the necessary information to begin a claim.
You do not need to subject yourself to their questions or say anything beyond giving basic information about the accident.
The following is a guide of what you can say to your insurer after a motor vehicle collision.
While you are under certain obligations to speak to your insurer under your policy and contract with them, you have no obligation to speak to anyone else following an accident. The at-fault party’s insurance company will try to contact you. Do not speak with them under any circumstances. Let your lawyer do this for you.
Managing insurance companies, whether your own or the other party’s insurer, after a crash is stressful. Hiring an attorney sooner rather than later will let you get relief from these burdensome calls and messages and know your case is in good hands. Contact a lawyer the moment you have a chance to after an accident. There is no such thing as calling a lawyer too soon when you are a victim of negligence in a motor vehicle accident.
Most personal injury lawyers offer free case evaluations. Schedule one as soon as possible so that you can discuss the details of your case and go over any questions you may have and what your rights are under the law. A car accident lawyer will help you protect your rights after a collision and fight for the money you need to recover your losses in its aftermath.
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.
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