Imagine you’re on your way home from dinner with friends when you stop at a stop sign and suddenly, you’re jerked and jolted as a car rear ends you.
Quickly, you think over what just happened. You’d stopped slowly enough, so you know the accident wasn’t your fault. Is the person drunk? Are they injured? You’re not quite sure what to do as you’re worried about your insurance covering the damage and who the police will find at-fault.
First, let’s go over the steps you need to take right away.
Step 1: Move your vehicles off the road.
As long as your car is able to be moved, turn it on and relocate it to a safe space off the road. The other car should do this too, and both vehicles should have their hazards on. Before moving your car, you might consider taking a few quick photos of the accident.
Step 2: Call the police and explain what happened and your location.
Step 3: Get out and exchange information.
Collect the driver’s first and last name, contact info., driver’s license number, license plate number, make and model of vehicle, and insurance info. Give them your information too.
Step 4: Take pictures of everything.
Use your smartphone or a digital camera to take photos and/or video of the scene, vehicles, injuries, and surroundings.
Step 5: Call your insurance company.
Start the claims process.
Understanding How to File an Insurance Claim
You’ll need to be in touch with your insurance provider throughout the claims process and likely fill out a few forms. Whenever speaking to your agent, be sure to have all pertinent information (such as what you collected from the other driver) on-hand.
Make sure you know what’s in your policy — especially if it’s been a while since you renewed it. You may have endorsements and extras such as rental car insurance, new car replacement insurance, or GAP coverage on your policy. All of these insurance add-ons can be extremely helpful and save you money when you get into an accident.
Overall, your insurance agent or “claims adjuster” should explain to you how much of your claim will be covered under your policy and what, if any, deductible you’ll need to pay.
Getting Your Vehicle Repaired
As long as your adjuster approves the repair estimate you present them with, you can go anywhere to have your car repaired. On the other hand, ask your insurance company if they work with any “preferred” garages. Going to one of these can be helpful in that your insurance agency will likely approve an estimate from that garage right away.
Remember: You should never get repairs completed before your insurance agency approves them or you may not get reimbursed.
Once your agent reviews your estimate, it’s possible they’ll tell you that your car is “totaled” and needs to be replaced. This occurs when the damage costs are more than 70% of the car’s actual value. In these cases, you’ll get a check for shopping for a new car instead of approval of the car’s repairs.
Choose Your Auto Insurance Wisely
Doing your research, weighing and comparing your options, and choosing a strong and comprehensive auto insurance plan may not be your idea of a fun activity. But doing so — and working with the right insurance agency — will make a world of difference if you get into an auto accident.
At Reis Insurance in River Falls, WI, we have a number of comprehensive plans to meet your needs. Stop in and speak with one of our agents today to learn about your options.