“I’m a good driver. I’ve only had minor accidents and would never get into a serious one.”
“I live in an area of the country with decent weather, so I’m sure nothing will damage my home or RV.”
Does this sound like you? Contrary to your positive, confident outlook, accidents can and will happen. Probably when you least expect it, too. Despite your clean record, it is important to be prepared in case you need to file a claim with your insurance company. You don’t want to let the fear and shock of your loss to hamper or delay submitting a claim. It’s better to be proactive in the claim process and knowledgeable of what to do next.
If you are involved in a car accident, make sure to have your insurance card. Exchange your insurance and contact information with the other party involved. Do not admit fault after the incident because it will affect your insurance liability. Take pictures of your car damage and the accident scene from different angles.
Make sure you read through your car insurance policy to know the allotted time frame for submitting a claim. You don’t want to miss your window of opportunity and have to pay for everything out of pocket. Even if you were not at fault in the accident, it is important to let your insurance company know what happened.
Provide your insurance company with all of the information you collected after the accident. They may then file the claim for you, or have you fill out the paperwork yourself. Be honest with the details you give your agent. You don’t want to be caught in a lie and then be dropped from your policy as a result.
When talking with your insurance company, record the name and phone number of the claims adjuster. Also find out your claim number. Ask them questions, like:
- What is my payout estimate?
- Should I contact the other driver’s insurance company?
- How can I limit my out-of-pocket expenses?
- Will a rental car be covered under my insurance while I wait for the damages to be repaired?
If you and the other party disagree on the course of events leading up to the accident, you may receive a call from the other person’s insurance company. They will ask you for your version of what happened. Make sure to keep documenting every conversation that transpires after the accident, including the details of the phone call.
Make sure to wait to fix the damage to your vehicle until you understand the requirements for repairs. The insurance company may want to send an insurance adjuster out to your home to evaluate the damages. They may also have a list of preferred auto body repair shops that you need to use. You agent may also require you to submit a repairs estimate to be approved prior to work being done.
Fire, flooding, vandalism, theft. Owning your home, or renting an apartment, comes with risks. Some you can control and others you cannot. Much like filing a claim for a car accident, the key is documentation. The Insurance Information Institution and other insurance organizations have smart phone apps that you can download. In the app, you can take videos and pictures of your valuables and other important possessions. If any of your belongings are damaged in a loss, then you will have proof of their existence and value. Decide if you want a company or pubic adjuster.
Recording information is important after an incident occurs as well. You need to document in notes and in pictures where damage happened and what you have lost. According to Travelers VP of personal claims, Patrick Gee, if you take photos showing the source of the damage, “Then there are many fewer questions about the cause of the loss.”
Once you have done this, contact your insurance agent to begin the claims process. Be aware of the timeframe for submitting a claim and what they recommend for obtaining repairs estimates. Then, set up a time to meet with your insurance adjuster and a contractor with experience fixing the damages your home incurred. This will help to give the adjuster perspective on the amount of work and costs associated with fixing everything. Also, provide the adjuster with any of the pictures, videos, and receipts you have so they can have it in your claims file (be sure to keep a copy for yourself too).
Once the insurance adjuster has been to your home to evaluate the damages, follow up with him or her. Contact them once a week to inquire if there is anything else that you can do to help with the claims process.
Keep maintaining records of the meetings and phone calls with the adjuster, contractor, and insurance company. Also, if you need to stay in a hotel because of the extent of the damages, the keep all receipts of your expenses.
Contact Your Agent
Speak to your independent insurance agent as soon as possible. They will have the knowledge and expertise to help you through the claims process. Today, there are various ways to contact your agent. The insurance company may have a smart phone app which you can download. These include features for taking pictures and recording specific information about the accident. Either way, make sure your insurance company is aware of the loss that you have incurred.
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