It’s a fact of life with auto insurance. At some point you’ll need to file a claim.
Many motorists make the mistake of seeing an insurance claim as an automatic outcome of buying a policy, a sure thing, without any issues. You expect the insurance company to pay your damages and any claims against you.
But it is naive to think that it will be a simple case of submitting a claim, sitting back, and waiting for the check to arrive in the mail.
Problems can rise, at the start or even at the end, and in this post we look at common issues to avoid with auto insurance claims. If you are aware of them and prepared to deal with them if they arise, your auto insurance claim will go smoothly.
Failing to Act Quickly
Did you know? Claims are similar to crimes in the way they are solved, they just don’t make good TV show. The longer it takes for policy holders to call their auto insurance companies to get the ball rolling, the harder it becomes to deal with them. Decide quickly if you want to make a claim or not. Otherwise, you will face questions, ambiguity, delays, and other problems in the future.
This is a good reason to build a relationship with your auto local auto insurance agent in Grapevine, Dallas, or the Fort Worth area because all it takes is a quick call to get rolling.
Failure to Provide the Required Information
An auto insurance company cannot reach a quick conclusion if you don’t provide the required information. It’s as simple as that. You get them the information quickly, the ball is in their court.
Even the basics are a start: What happened, who else was involved, who was driving, where, when, what were the circumstances that led to the accident, what were the damages, and do you have the information of the other’s involved?
Calling the police, getting the police report, getting and organizing details from witnesses, calling and organizing any photos taken all take time and can come after the basics are reported.
It’s not uncommon that both drivers blame each other for the accident. And don’t be surprised that even after accepting fault at the scene the other driver may change his or her story after talking with his or her auto insurance agent.
Not that you don’t trust the other guy, but be wary, be aware. Be on the watch out for such accusations when another party is involved in an accident.
If at all possible, call your local insurance agent in Grapevine, Dallas, or Fort Worth for quick advice. He or she will tell you pictures don’t lie (they’re also automatically time stamped) and you, or someone you designate, should take what you can to document the scene. It doesn’t hurt to even think like a cop or a lawyer — you’ve probably seen a few cop TV shows.
Also, in such cases, witness statements can be crucial. If you, or your designate, can take down eye-witness accounts, that helps. You probably won’t remember this, but turn on the voice recorder on your phone and record what happened, get names and phone numbers, and so on.
Taking photos and making recordings can scare off other drivers or even antagonize, so be as judicious as possible.
Not Knowing What to Do
We noted this in an earlier post on auto insurance. When an accident happens, everything speeds up. You might be injured or a passenger might be hurt. Someone in the other car could be injured. Adrenaline is flowing.
That’s at the scene.
It applies afterward, too. It is important to know how to proceed with your claim with your auto insurance company. Companies do things differently. When you talk with your local agents in Grapevine, Dallas, or Fort Worth, find out how they do things . . . and then do them.
If you take a little more time and care at each step, making sure all is in order, it will actually save you time and reduce any unexpected issues.
Otherwise, you will be relying totally on your auto insurance company and its representatives, who you may not know personally, to lead you through the process — at their pace. They have other cases, too, not just your’s.
Failing to Buy Sufficient Auto Insurance Coverage
This happens. Let’s say you buy a policy that fits your lifestyle and income at the time, but after a few years you make a bit more money, you buy a fancier car, and even though that car is insured the coverage may not be adequate, especially if you go from a Hyundai to a Lexus.
There is nothing anyone can do after the claim if you don’t have sufficient coverage to pay for all the losses and liabilities. It would be awful to find out that your claim will not be paid due to inadequate coverage.
That’s why it’s a good idea every few years to review all your insurance, not just auto insurance, with your agent in Grapevine, Dallas, or Fort Worth on online representative.
You change. Company policies change.
Not Providing Accurate Information When Buying a Policy
You may think you’re fooling the auto insurance company by giving inaccurate information at the time of purchase, but insurance companies know that policy holders tell lies to their insurers so they can get the cheapest auto insurance rates. It’s a documented fact.
This doesn’t mean you are dishonest, and it doesn’t mean you will get investigated when you’re paying your premium on time. But insurance companies will start digging into your life when a claim and its details don’t add up.
Choosing the Auto Body Repair Shop
Most auto insurance companies will let you choose the garage you want for repairs — within reason. As long as companies don’t radically overcharge you for repairs you should be fine. However — there’s always a however, isn’t there? — claims adjusters do this every day for a living and they can smell a rat.
Claims adjusters, too, can be shady, and they may try to steer you towards a particular repair shop. But they may also have good reasons to do, like they have a good relationship with the shop and know quality repairs are done fairly and promptly — certainly a benefit to you.
If you want your car to be repaired by a certain mechanic or shop where you live, make this clear and get quotes from them to submit to the auto insurance company. For all you know, your agent may also use the same shop in Grapevine, Fort Worth or Dallas for their own vehicles.
Ambiguous Policy Terms
There are all sorts of auto insurance companies. Big, small, in between. Reputable, not so reputable. One of the tricks applies by insurers who are keen to pay claims is to write policy documents with double meanings.
If you smell something fishy, if you don’t understand something, talk to your agent in Grapevine, Dallas, or Fort Worth or online representative. If you are still unhappy with the exchange, then it might be time to look for another auto insurance company or to get a third party involved like a lower or a loss adjuster who works for you.
Low Ball Offers
It’s pretty much accepted that claims adjusters will come up with a low ball offer to get things started. First of all, they may want to see if they can save a few bucks for the company and look good. It happens.
Secondly, this is done because they expect some level of negotiations. It doesn’t hurt to do some of your own work to determine how much the damages are going to be before the auto insurance company offers a settlement.
You can always counter. Remember, having your documentation in line, the i’s dotted and t’s crossed certainly helps.
Don’t assume everything is running smoothly. You are entitled to ask what’s going on and check the status of your case — maybe not six times a day, but you get the idea. A delay may simply be that the auto insurance company is waiting to receive a missing document from you or to hear from you. It doesn’t hurt to ask if there is anything you can do to speed up the process.