Car damages are an unfortunate but not unpredictable event. Whether a pothole or someone rams damage your car into you during rush hour traffic, the incident will require some insurance claim settlement. A smooth insurance claim settlement requires a fair amount of legwork and preventive guidance.
1. Kick-Start the Claims Procedures Immediately
If you were at fault for the accident, do not leave your car in the middle of the street. Move it to a legal parking space and contact your insurance company as soon as possible; they will advise you on how to proceed. If another driver has hit you, contact your insurance company immediately and report the details of the incident.
2. Record Details of the Accident and Damage
A photograph of your car after the incident is essential. A picture is worth more than a thousand words; this is especially true of insurance claims. Although it may seem unnecessary, taking a photograph before cleaning the damage will allow you to track what you have cleaned and what needs to be cleaned next time you notice the damage. Whatever state your car was in before the accident, it will worsen if not immediately handled by professionals.
3. Finalize a Settlement Amount
If you are at fault, your insurance company will promptly notify you of the estimated compensation needed to fix the damage. If you are not at fault, your claim will be forwarded to the other insurance company, deciding whether to accept or reject the claim. The process may take several days, so in the meantime, do not make any independent repair attempts; instead, contact your insurance company for more guidance on how to proceed.
4. Send Your Demand Letter
While your claim is pending, you will be asked by your insurance company to write a “demand letter.” It is a letter describing the accident’s nature and requesting compensation. Be as detailed as possible, including all relevant information.
5. Analyze the First Offer and Push for a Reasonable Settlement
When the first offer for compensation arrives, scrutinize it. Insurance companies calculate their recommendation based on various factors, including damage, repair time and replacement costs. Suppose you have previously made independent estimates (which you should, as part of your proactive preparation), try to match or beat the insurance company’s first offer. Once you have agreed on an amount, it is time to finalize the settlement and move on with your life!
6. Get a Written Agreement of the Claims Settlement
An attorney can help you draft a detailed settlement agreement outlining the tests and standards your car needs to meet to be considered “fixed” by the insurer. If for some reason, the insurance company does not want to provide a written agreement, it is wise to contact an attorney before signing any paperwork. It is one of the importance of a car accident attorney.
7. Get Legal Advice if Negotiation Fails
If you feel that you are still not entirely satisfied with the settlement offer, it is advisable to seek legal advice. Please do not rely on the financial direction of your insurance company, as they may not always be completely impartial in their reasoning. However, most lawyers will assist you in negotiating a new agreement with your insurance company and obtaining a better settlement if required.
Car damage is an unfortunate and often unavoidable incident. Still, with some preparation, you can rest assured that your claims will be settled quickly and without too much drama.