Here are some things you can do to make your car insurance claim a smoother process
Get organized "" Make sure all your car insurance records are in order. Your insurance policy, your car registration papers, your license etc. Always ensure that everything is valid and up to date. You don"t want to find out at the time of filing a car insurance claim that your insurance expired only last week and that you were driving without car insurance for a week! Not only do you lose any chance to claim, but also get penalized for driving uninsured. In some states, if you"re caught driving without insurance, you are automatically treated "at fault" in an accident. These are things you want to avoid at all costs; so stay organized.
Gather records of the accident- Witness accounts, police records, lots of photographs from different distances and different angles, of the accident scene, all help to make your car insurance claim case a stronger one. Though you might be in a state of shock after the accident, make sure someone you know, is at hand gathering all evidence of the accident.
Know what you are entitled to "" Check your car insurance policy to see whether you are entitled to medical reimbursement (in case the accident is your fault). Do you qualify for a car rental service? What other benefits are you entitled to under your car insurance policy? In case the other driver is at fault, their car insurance company will have to bear the expenses of not just your medical treatment and other repairs that your car might need, but also, car rental, your time off work, your losses and expenses such as travel cost for travelling to the hospital for medical treatment etc.
Make a note of what you will say to your car insurance company - When you have sufficiently relaxed, make a note of what exactly you are going to talk to your car insurance company. You might need to make a statement more than once during the entire car insurance claim process, and you do not want it to be inconsistent. Having a list of points will ensure you do not miss anything important out at any time.
Keep a record of your call to your insurance company "" Make sure you keep a notepad ready when you call your insurance company to file your car insurance claim. Chances are that you"ll go through many people up the pecking order and this will happen many times till your car insurance claim gets sorted, so make sure you have a record of the name, identification number, designation and what was spoken to each person for future reference.
Get an independent assessment of the damage "" Your car insurance company will be sending out their claims adjustor to assess the damage to your car and make a report for them. Your claims amount will obviously be based on the assessment report. However it"s a good idea to get an independent assessment done from a good body shop that you trust will give quality spare parts and service, to have an idea of how much to expect out of your car insurance claim.
You are not under obligation to accept the first offer made to you "" If your independent assessment of the damage is different from that of your car insurance company, you are under no obligation to accept your car insurance claim. Get estimates from more body shops and show these as proof to your car insurance company of how much it would cost to repair/ replace your car. If your car is totaled, you can get an idea of its blue book value by visiting websites like Kelly"s Blue Book or NADA. These usually take your location, the car"s model and make and its pre -accident condition into account in order to calculate its market value. Usually, car insurance companies are open to negotiations and given sufficient proof they revise their claim amount assessments.
If you still feel shortchanged in your car insurance claims dealing with your company, you might need to seek legal help. However remember, insurance attorneys usually keep a share of the car insurance claim amount for themselves, sometimes this might be as high as a third of the amount you are entitled to. You have to assess if the damages are enough for you to want to sue the car insurance company or their client and make some money out of it.
Do not sign any paper till you have received the full and final payment of your claim "" This is especially true for those undergoing long term medical treatments as a consequence of their car accident. Keep a record of all medical consultation, procedures and therapy bills and only sign any papers absolving the car insurance company of any further claim amounts, once you have completely healed. This might take a long time, but it also saves you money.
Last but not the least; go with a reputed insurance company in the first place. Car insurance claims can be especially frustrating when you realize that you"ve been paying your insurance premiums honestly and regularly all the time, only to be shortchanged when claiming. Take promises of lowest rates with a pinch of salt. While getting car insurance quotes, don"t go blindly with the lowest rates without checking the customer service reputation of the company. The last thing you want is substandard aftermarket parts for your car!