Statistically, even the most careful drivers will eventually have a car accident. However, by being prepared to file a claim with your insurance company, you can help make the aftermath as painless as possible. Many people who have never been in a real accident figure that the police and insurance company will just take care of everything, but the truth is that much of the responsibility falls upon the drivers. If you aren’t sure what to do following a car accident, read on for a quick step-by-step guide that will teach you how to file your first claim, and put the incident behind you.
Gather As Much Information as Possible
It’s best to do this at the scene of the accident (provided there are no serious injuries) to avoid having to go back and gather information after the fact. You’ll need to provide your auto insurance company, your full name and policy number; the full names, addresses, and phone numbers of any other drivers involved as well as any witnesses; the driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance policy information for all other drivers; and full details about the incident. Record the weather and visibility conditions at the time of the crash as well as any other pertinent information. You may also want to take photos if there is damage to the vehicles—significant or small.
Learn What Kind of Claim You Need to File
A first party claim is filed with your own insurance company, while a third party claim is filed with the insurance company of another driver involved in the crash. What type of claim you need to file largely depends on who is at fault in the accident. However, it’s still important to contact your insurance company right away. They will gather the necessary information–including a police report–to find out whether they will pay your claim or whether they will pursue a third party claim. If it’s the latter, most insurance companies will handle that for you directly.
Work with the Insurance Company
While your insurance and/or the other party’s insurance investigates the crash, they will be in contact with you to provide pertinent information. Be prepared with photos, data, and accident reports so that they are able to expedite your claim. Make detailed notes about who you talk to at each company, and be prepared to follow up regularly. The insurance company will also send a representative to examine the damage to your car and make a determination about coverage based on this examination.
Know Your Rights
If your claim is denied, you have the right to an appeals process. If you feel that you have not been given a fair value for your needed repairs and medical bills, you may consider contacting an attorney. Once again, providing detailed information to the insurance company will help you in getting a fair and timely claim. The more information they have, the less investigating they will have to do and the sooner the matter can be handled.
No one wants to be involved in a car accident, but everyone should be prepared for it. After a crash occurs you’ll be flustered and overwhelmed, so make sure you have all of the necessary information organized. Once you’ve recovered from the initial shock of the crash, be sure to coordinate with your insurance company—you’ll be responsible for submitting information and following up to see that things are being taken care of. Although it might be a messy process, with the right information and a proactive attitude, you’ll be able to successfully file your first claim.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, women’s interests, and family issues. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. Dixie got advice for this piece from the professionals at Yearwood & Company who specialize in ICBC claims in Surrey.