THINGS TO KNOW AND WHAT TO DO, BEFORE AN ACCIDENT HAPPENS TO YOU
- Know what your policies cover. Make sure you understand the coverages and exclusions in your insurance policies because they can differ from those of your friends.
- Talk to your insurance company BEFORE you talk to a lawyer. Lawyers come with extra fees and the majority of claims are settled without legal representation. Remember that when you hire a lawyer, you lose your ability to represent yourself with the insurance company.
- Get more than one estimate. If your vehicle or home is damaged, it's smart to get two opinions before you submit the amount to your insurance company.
- Document Everything! Keeping records of all financial expenses, legal documents, police reports and any other information relevant to the accident, is vital for successful reimbursement. *Remember to make copies of everything you send to the insurance company.*
AUTO INSURANCE CLAIM: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW
- If your policy has a deductible, know the amount you've agreed to pay out of pocket.
- If your state has a no-fault policy, and how this affects your insurance coverage.
- The amount of liability insurance you have, in case you cause damage to other parties.
- Prepare for the other insurance company to call you. Make sure you get the name of the agent, and that you make record of everything you say.
- Get help for any injured parties, and have someone call 911 immediately. Only move injured people if it is absolutely necessary, and do not administer aid unless you are certified to do so.
- Be cooperative with the police, and ask how to get a copy of the police report- which may be necessary to support your insurance claim.
- Be careful not to directly admit guilt. Remember, anything you say can be used in court.
- Make sure your vehicle is safe from further damage, call AAA or a tow truck to have your vehicle transported.
- Do not order repair work yet, your insurance company may want to inspect your vehicle and appraise the damage.
Make sure to carry a pad and pen to take down necessary information such as drivers involved in the accident, police information, vehicle information, and injuries. If you have a camera or cell phone, take pictures of the scene and the damage.
HOME INSURANCE CLAIM: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW
- The liability coverage within your homeowner's policy. Ask your insurance agent if you do not know!
- The amount of medical payment coverage within your homeowner's policy. This is important if someone else gets injured in your home.
- If your home is insured for at least 80% of it's replacement value, because less than 80% coverage may not cover expenses for partial damage to your home.
- If your belongings are insured for replacement cost or actual cash value. Replacement Cost would reward you with more compensation, but it usually requires an additional premium. Most insurance policies insure for Actual Cash Value, so check if the premium would be a better option for you.
FILING YOUR HOME INSURANCE CLAIM
- In the case of burglary or theft, call the police immediately to begin documentation of the crime. Keep a record of the police report in case your insurance company requests it.
- Insurance companies place a time limit on claims, so you MUST call your insurance company IMMEDIATELY.
- Find out how long it will take for your claim to be processed, if you need to get any estimates for damages, and if your claim amounts to more than your deductible, so you can plan for how much you will have to pay out of pocket.
- Make a list of all damaged or lost belongings.
- Save ALL receipts for temporary repairs to your home and additional living expenses (if you can't stay in your home) and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.