(Thebalance) – Accidents happen. That is why we prepare for them and it’s the reason for auto insurance. No matter how carefully you drive or how meticulously you maintain your vehicle, the fact is that you will likely be involved in one or more accidents in the course of your driving lifetime.
And that means you’ll be filing a few claims with your insurer. Nobody wants to be in an accident, obviously, and no one wants to go through the hassle of the claims process. But there you have it. It’s just one of life’s inevitabilities. There are a few things you can do, however, to make the car insurance claims process go faster and to make it a bit easier to take.
The Accident Scene
One of the best ways to speed up the entire claims process is to get off to the right start, and that begins at the accident scene itself. The more good information and evidence you can collect there, the better. Here’s what to get:
Try to get basic personal information from everyone at the scene. That includes all other drivers, passengers, and bystanders. Get their names, phone numbers, and home and email addresses. Anything that will make it easier to find them later. If you have time, take some notes about what each witness saw and heard. Pass all of this information along to your claims adjuster, but be sure to keep copies for yourself.
This is particularly important. Make sure to exchange insurance information with the drivers of all vehicles involved in the accident. It’s probably going to be the first thing your adjuster asks you for.
Take a bunch of photos of the accident scene. If you can get pictures before the vehicles are moved out of the way, great, but don’t create a dangerous situation to take them. Take photos of all damages to your car, every other vehicle involved, and anything else. Take a few pictures of the accident location as well. A few different angles are always helpful. Take pictures of the parties involved and all witnesses, if you can. And, finally, take photos of each party’s insurance card.
Always call the police after an accident. They may or may not be able to respond, but it’s always worth a try. When they arrive, make sure to get the officers’ names. They will gather their information and take interviews for their report, and instruct you on how to obtain a copy the report once it is written up. Hold onto whatever paperwork they give you and pass on copies to your adjuster.
Contact Your Insurer ASAP
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “most crimes are solved in the first 48 hours after the incident.” That’s because the crime scene remains intact and the details are still fresh in the minds of the witnesses. It’s kind of like that with an auto accident. We’re not talking about a crime here (we hope), but the idea still works. The sooner you contact your insurer, the easier it will be for them to make the inquiries they need to get the most accurate data. It’s not a bad idea to call them from the scene of the accident, if possible.
Be Cooperative and Prompt
Most small accidents are relatively simple for your adjuster to handle. He or she has done them hundreds of times over. That doesn’t mean that a claim can’t be held up by some missing piece of evidence or information. If your adjuster calls you and leaves a message to call him or her back, do it as soon as you can. Good communication between the insurer and claimant is vital. Plus, it’s hard to complain about slow processing if you’re the one holding it up.
This rule seems obvious, but not everyone follows it. It’s human to want to avoid pain, and admitting that you are at fault for your accident can be pretty painful. But if you are at fault, don’t try to get out of it by lying. First of all, insurance adjusters have a lot of experience with accidents and fibbers.
They’re really good about figuring out what happened and that can be pretty bad for you if you are less than forthcoming with the facts. Insurance fraud is frowned upon and could cost you a lot more money than the premium increase you’ll likely get by admitting fault. And if you’re looking for a speedy conclusion to the claims process, being dishonest will surely slow it down, and sometimes bring it to a crashing halt.
More Speedy Car Claim Tips
First, most states have some regulatory guidelines about how long an insurer has to acknowledge your claim and then either admit or deny it. Second, most adjusters are pros and are much happier when they can complete a claim and clear another file off of their desks. They know there are plenty more coming. So, be as helpful as possible, and it should be smooth sailing for your claim.