Getting in a car accident is always a stressful and dangerous situation, but if you’re lucky enough to not be injured after enduring a crash, there are several things you can do immediately after an accident to make the entire insurance process go a little more smoothly. It’s inevitable that the car insurance process after an accident is going to be a time-consuming and sometimes infuriating ordeal, and when you are dealing with someone else’s insurer it can be hard to maintain your sanity.
This article is going to give you step-by-step information in terms of what you need to be prepared for throughout the entire insurance process from the moment of the accident all the way through the filing of a claim and the appeals process. By going through all the information provided on this page you’ll not only be more prepared when an unfortunate collision occurs on the road, but you’ll also be more aware of what your rights are in certain situations when dealing with insurance companies in order to carefully get the best result out of your specific claim.
What to Do After an Accident
This section provides a brief overview of what you need to do in the moments following any collision on the road, and by following these simple steps you’ll be much safer in the case of potentially dangerous scenarios, as well as begin the car insurance process more meticulously.
Step 1: Check yourself and your passengers for injuries
These can be some of the scariest moments of anyone’s life, and if you are injured you should call 911, and if you’re seriously injured and can’t call you should try to stay as still as possible and wait for the ambulance personnel to arrive. If you’re not too hurt then check up on your passengers, and if they are seriously injured you need to get on a phone and call 911 or have a bystander call for help.
Step 2: Get to safety
If you aren’t too hurt you should move out of the road, and if you think your car is creating a potential hazard and it can be safely moved then you should pull it over to the shoulder/side of the road. But if it isn’t creating a serious hazard you should leave it where it’s at and get you and your passengers to a safe position.
Step 3: Call 911 and wait for help
If you haven’t already then you should call 911 when you’re in a safe place, and in most cases calling the police is a requirement for all accidents. It will help the insurance process in the end because the responding officers will create an accident report and legally document the scene, which the insurance companies will examine carefully.
Step 4: Exchange information
This is a crucial part of any insurance process for all parties involved in a car accident, and the most important information that you’ll need to get from the other people involved in the accident includes the following:
- Their full name(s) and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- A picture of their Driver’s license and license plate number
- Type, year, model and color of their vehicle
- Exact location of the accident
Another key thing to consider in this step after an accident is that it’s not necessarily best to discuss who’s at fault while you’re going over the facts of the accident with the other driver(s) involved in the collision.
Step 5: Document the scene of the accident
In order to fully prepare for insurance companies and the claims process you are going to want to make sure you gather up as much information about what happened with your accident as you possibly can. Some of the following steps are great ways to gather information after an accident:
- Get the Officers’ information — Make sure you get the names and badge numbers of the police officers that arrive on the scene.
- Get an Accident Report copy — You’ll need to ask the responding officers where you can get a copy.
- Take pictures! — Get pictures of your vehicle from several angles, and make sure you show the damage that was done to both, or all, of the cars involved. Also get pictures of the other car’s license plate and even wide angles to help give a better idea as to how the accident occurred where it did.
- Get names — Make sure you get the names and verified addresses of each of the people involved in the collision, and this includes all of the passengers as well. Witnesses are huge here, and if there are witnesses you are going to want to get their information too.
Step 6: Begin the claims process
It may be smart to call your insurance company while you are at the scene of the accident so they can help guide you in terms of the information that they’ll need to process your specific claim. But if you follow all of these steps and gather the necessary information you’ll see that this initial call to your insurance provider won’t be as stressful as it otherwise would be.
Insurance Claims After an Accident
Although it may seem like an arduous hassle to deal with insurance companies they are extremely necessary in terms of receiving adequate compensation for any kinds of injuries/pain and suffering, medical and car repair expenses, and potential lost wages that resulted from the accident.
Although it’s crucial to understand the right steps to take in the moments after an accident, it’s really only just the beginning. By understanding everything that goes into the insurance claims process you’ll be more prepared to handle their adjustment tactics.
This section helps you to distinguish the differences between first and third party claims, fully understand the claims process, and how an insurance company will ultimately calculate a claim’s value.
First and Third Party Claims
It’s important to know the difference between the two kinds of insurance claims, which are first and third party claims.
A first party claim is a claim that you personally file with your insurance company, while a third party claim is a claim that you file with the insurance company of someone else. Every accident scenario is different, which is why it’s important to understand what type of claim to file under your specific circumstances in accordance to who was primarily at fault for the accident.
If you know that you caused an accident then you are more than likely going to need to file a first party claim with your insurance company, but if you have a reasonable amount of information to believe that you weren’t at fault for the accident then you would file a third party claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
It’s also important to contact your insurance company when you are in the process of filing a third party claim so that they are on the same page and can help you throughout the process in terms of negotiating with the other insurance company.
The Claims Process
No matter who is at fault, it’s imperative that you report the accident to your insurance company, or the other person’s insurance company, within 24 hours of the incident. If you are unable to do so you need to report the incident as soon as you are capable.
In this initial call you’ll be required to provide a lot of information about the accident and the extent of your injuries, as well as the damages to your vehicle. This is where all of the above steps to take after an accident come into play, and if you are well prepared and have this information in hand you should be fine.
It’s also a really good idea to read your policy so that you can better understand the details of your coverage and the claims process as it pertains to your policy. Your insurance provider will easily be able to email this to you.
The next thing that happens is the insurance company you file a claim with will assign an adjuster to open up an investigation. The adjuster will be the most crucial person throughout the entire claims process, and they’ll be the person who you will want to send all of your photos to, as well as the contact information of witnesses and any other detailed information you can provide about the accident. In some cases the adjuster will set up an in-person meeting with you, but in other cases you’ll talk to the adjuster entirely over the phone and email.
There are quite a few other requests that an insurance adjuster may ask of you, and it’s also important to remember that every conversation you have with an adjuster is used to help determine who is at fault for the accident. With that in mind, especially if you’re filing a personal injury claim, you’ll want to contact an attorney before talking in-depth with an adjuster.
In addition to gathering up information about the accident, an adjuster will most likely ask you to have your vehicle inspected by a certified repair shop, or they will inspect the vehicle themselves. It’s important not to get your vehicle repaired until an adjuster has done their own inspection or has authorized you to get an inspection. An insurance provider will then pay the lower option of the following:
- The cost to repair the damages; or
- The actual cash value of your vehicle, which is the amount that is necessary to replace your car with a comparable used car.
You’ll also need to complete a Proof of Loss form, which is a sworn statement that supports your claim. In certain circumstances you’ll have to undergo an independent medical examination from a medical professional that the adjuster will choose.
How do insurance adjusters determine fault?
Whether it is partial or full, someone involved in an accident is going to be determined at fault by an adjuster, and the person who is proven to be at fault will be responsible in terms of paying a proportional amount of losses through their insurance coverage.
Adjusters determine fault by weighing in on the statements of each driver and witnesses, as well as the information that’s provided in the police report. Although the police will determine fault for their own purposes, an adjuster could potentially side differently in certain circumstances. There are also Fault Determination Rules that help diagram almost every possible collision scenario.
In Indiana there are comparative fault laws, so two parties in an accident many times will share the fault for the collision and recovery compensation is reduced proportionally to the party that was less than 50 percent at fault.
Calculating Claim Value
Medical and repair expenses, as well as lost wages, are pretty easy to calculate in terms of how much a person may owe when they are found to be at fault for an accident, but it’s hard to put a specific value on a person’s pain and suffering after being injured.
In these situations, insurance companies will use damages formulas to help them come to an exact monetary value to pay for non-monetary losses. These formulas can get a little complicated, but in certain situations you can negotiate for higher settlements with insurance companies based off their own calculations.
Resolution and the Appeals Process
Once an adjuster has determined fault and calculated the value of your claim then the insurance company will issue a settlement check, or deny your claim entirely. Also, if you believe that the amount of the settlement isn’t correct or is inadequate then you can appeal to the insurance company who will then require more examinations and evidence pertaining to the accident.
There are many reasons why your claim may be denied, and one major reason why that could happen to you is because your insurance plan doesn’t cover the specific type of accident that occurred. If your claim is denied then it will be up to you to appeal the denial, and if you want to do so then it’s in your best interest to consult with an insurance attorney who can help you throughout this entire process.