Car accidents are so stressful. Your car is wrecked, your day is ruined, and you know the hardest part is still to come, because now you have to deal with the insurance company. Filing a claim may seem like a nightmare, but with a few basic principles in mind you can navigate the claims process with your sanity intact and without losing your shirt. First, remember that insurance companies want to make money. To be profitable, they need to collect more premiums than they pay out in claims. The bottom line is that an insurance company has no incentive to maximize your recovery after an accident.
That’s true whether you file a claim with your own provider or file a claim against another driver’s policy. Do not expect that an insurer will look out for your best interest during the claims process. Be prepared to ask for more if the company lowballs your settlement. In some cases, you might even have to threaten them with a lawsuit to get a full and fair recovery. That’s not as scary as it sounds because lawsuits are extremely unprofitable. Especially for a crash involving normal cars and no injuries, the cost of a court battle will almost always exceed the cost of paying out a full settlement. That’s why most insurance claims are settled without much hassle.
Don’t be afraid to push back if a carrier tries to give you less than what you deserve. They don’t want to fight about your claim any more than you do, but they may try to minimize your recovery because it’s profitable and because most people are not aggressive in asserting their rights. How do you know when you’re getting a fair deal? Remember that in general, when you suffer a covered loss, you have a right to a complete recovery. You can even recover from multiple insurance companies for different losses related to a single accident. If an accident was not your fault and a settlement offer doesn’t cover all your losses, don’t be afraid to demand more. You have a legal right to be made whole again.
Of course, you may not be able to get a full and complete recovery if you were at fault in causing the accident, because fault is the most important factor in determining who is entitled to what after a car accident. If it’s not clear that one person was totally at fault, the insurance company, or companies, will investigate the crash to determine who is to blame and in what proportion. In some states, your recovery will be reduced by exactly the percentage of your fault. That’s why it’s so important to– A slip of the tongue can cost you thousands when you’re talking to an insurance company after an accident. If you say anything that suggests you were at fault, you can trust that they will use it to justify a lower recovery.
If you need to make a statement about an accident you were in, write it out first. Read it to yourself and make sure that nothing in it suggests you were at fault. This is not the time to be neutral or careless in your language. If someone else caused the accident, make sure they get all the blame whenever you talk about it. Insurance claims don’t have to be a nightmare. Be smart and look out for your interests.