Whether it is a fender-bender or major collision it is enough to leave you shaken, especially if there is damage to your property — or worse yet, injury to you. If you are going to report an accident to an insurance company, there is a process to help things go smoothly.
Do I report an accident?
Sometimes the most difficult part of making an insurance claim is deciding whether you even want to make one. There are times when it is more economical to take care of the damages on your own than to make a claim. There are two types of insurance claims that you can file: a first-party claim and a third-party claim.
When you file a first-party claim, you report the accident directly to your own insurance carrier. When making a third-party claim, you contact the insurance company of the other motorist involved in the accident. A third-party claim is made when the other driver was “at-fault.” If you are at fault and the damages to your car or the other car are minimal, it is best to consider how much it will increase your premiums to report the accident versus how much it would cost to fix the damages. If there are injuries involved or the accident was substantial, then it is always best to get the insurance company involved.
Report the car insurance claim
Although you may be a little shaken, it is important to report the accident immediately to the proper insurance carrier. If you are filing a first-party claim, then you will want to call your insurance carrier and should have their contact info either online or on the back of your insurance card. If you are filing a third-party claim, then you will have to get the information about the insurance company from the other motorist. Other things you will likely need when making a third party claim are:
- The policy number
- The insured person’s full name
- The time and date of the accident
- The license plate numbers for all parties involved
- The police report number
- A general description of the accident
The insurance company will be responsible for investigating your claim and arranging a time for you to have your car inspected for damages. They will typically have someone come out to assess the damage, unless the accident was severe enough that the car was totaled.
Each carrier will have their own timeline for filing a claim, which is why it is imperative that you call immediately to file.
What not to say when you call
There are certain questions that the insurance carrier is going to ask you. Because the call will be recorded, it is important that you not say anything that might jeopardize the case. There are many things that you will want not to talk about with the other insurance company, like:
- Giving a report of your injury – Although you should tell them you are injured, do not give any more specifics about how you were injured or the extent of your injuries when you’re first filing a claim. Any statements about self-diagnosing can come back to bite you.
- Submitting a written statement – Never give any written statements related to the accident unless you know exactly why you are providing them. And it is always a good idea to have Los Angeles auto accident lawyers look over any written statements before you send them.
- Answer any specific questions – Avoid answering any specific questions about the accident. Don’t offer any conclusions of your own or give more details than are asked.
- Tell the truth – It is imperative to tell the truth. Even if you are worried that it might put you at fault, if you are caught telling the insurance company something that isn’t true, that is technically fraud.
- Agree to any settlements – Before you accept any settlement money, it is important to have your case assessed by a personal injury lawyer to ensure that you are being fairly compensated. Once you accept money then the case is over, and you aren’t eligible to collect for anything that may creep up in the future.
If you are in an accident where there is either damage or injuries, it is always best to get the help of a personal injury lawyer who specializes in auto accidents before you discuss any specifics of the case or agree to any settlements made by an insurance company.