You’ve just been in an accident, and you need to file an insurance claim. What should you do to ensure the best possible outcome? The following tips and tricks can help you navigate the seemingly long road to getting your life (and your car) back.
Keep it Simple
One of the worst things you can do while talking to a representative of the insurance company is to over embellish, overelaborate or get overemotional. People who keep their thoughts simple and organized not only sound trustworthy—they make the entire process easier for everyone. The simpler your facts and statement, the less the insurance companies will need to weed through to make a decision.
Stick to the Facts
Number two is an elaboration of number one, but it can’t be stressed too clearly. Just tell the facts that are relevant to your insurance case. The insurance company doesn’t need to know what kind of coffee you ordered the morning of the accident or how your boss likes his egg sandwich. The more you stick to the facts, the more likely you’ll be, to tell the truth—the most important part of your statement.
Take a Beat Before You Talk
One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to filing an insurance claim is to contact their insurance companies too soon. This can result in plenty of problems. A car accident can be an extremely emotional situation. You might be hurt. You could feel angry. You might not be able to remember all the facts as they happened. You probably don’t remember everything. When we experience traumatic situations, we can often omit scary events from our memories. Taking a beat to let your mind and body heal can help you remember all the facts in a cohesive manner.
Take a Cue from Mom—Tell the Truth
If you can’t remember the color of the other guy’s car, don’t make one up. If you think you turned on your blinker but can’t remember, don’t lie and say you did. One of the best reasons to wait before talking to your insurance company is that it takes the time to remember all the facts. Once you remember the facts, tell the truth. Fudging even seemingly small facts can make a huge difference in your case. Maybe you think to lie about the red light you ran will help your case. Yet a few weeks down the road your insurance company gets a traffic cam photo of your infraction. You’ve just made yourself completely unreliable.
Know Your Rights
Did you know that it’s illegal for an insurance company to contact you or take a statement within 15 days of a car accident? Maybe you contact the insurance company because you want to get the interview out of the way as soon as possible. If the insurance company agrees to speak with you, they have broken the law. Why? Because many factors can impede your decision-making abilities after an accident. If you’re in the hospital or hurt, the drugs in your system could impede your judgment or the truth.
Voice Your Issues—Yet Not Too Loud
If you feel you’re being unfairly treated by the insurance company, file a complaint. Call the insurance company to voice your concerns. If you feel your claim is being handled in an unfair amount of time, ask the insurance company why your claim is still unsettled. If you received far less money than you expected from your claim, find out why. Yet the worst thing you can do is to overreact to the issue. The louder you become, the worse you look—even if your complaints seem justified.
Follow the Golden Rule
Do unto others as they would do unto you. Basically, treat the insurance people the way you’d like to be treated. Put yourself in their shoes. These people listen to car accident stories all day. They listen to people on the defensive all day. They are on the receiving end of screams, curses and foul language. Who do you think is going to get the star treatment? The guy who treats the insurance claims manager horribly? Or the one person who has a kind word?
Determine if You Need a Lawyer
You’ve done everything you could do to obtain an insurance claim, yet you still feel you have been treated unfairly. It might be time to hire a lawyer. While a lawyer might be able to help you navigate the rocky road to your insurance claim, a lawyer is not always necessary nor financially feasible.