Getting into a car accident—especially one that’s not your fault—can be extremely frustrating and traumatic. Even if you walk away from the wreck unharmed, you will likely still need to file a claim with the insurance company to recover compensation for the damages to your vehicle.
Dealing with the auto insurance company is not always easy. It’s important to keep in mind that insurance representatives are trained professionals and can be, at times, master manipulators.
Keep reading to learn 5 tips to help you deal with the insurance company after getting into a car accident.
#1 - Speak with an experienced car accident attorney before providing a statement to the insurance company.
It’s unwise to provide a statement to the insurance company without first consulting an experienced car accident attorney. Insurance carriers and agents will frequently use a recorded statement as an opportunity to collect information from you that they are not entitled to, and they may take advantage of the fact that you are unfamiliar with the claims process to put you at a disadvantage. Adjusters are frequently friendly and appear to be helpful, while often they do not have your best interest in mind.
It’s always best to have a skilled car accident attorney with you when you provide your statement. The insurance company may ask questions in a leading way to get you to say things that can damage your claim. This is a common tactic used by insurance companies to lure information out of you in a way that benefits them.
Your attorney will guide you through the process and explain the best way to provide your statement so that you can avoid making costly mistakes with your claim.
Just remember, it’s always best to have your attorney present when you provide your statement.
#2 - You don’t have to provide a statement to the insurance company over the phone.
If you’re uncomfortable with providing your statement about the car accident to the insurance company over the phone, you have other options. You have the following three options for providing your statement to the insurance company:
- Over the phone
- In writing
- Your attorney can provide your statement for you
Many people find it easier and more comfortable to provide a statement to the insurance company in writing. Not everyone is great with words, so thinking carefully about what you want to tell the insurance company by writing your statement may be a better option.
If you don’t feel comfortable providing a statement at all, it may be a good idea to have your attorney provide the statement for you. Your attorney will know what to say—and more importantly, what not to say—to the insurance company representatives.
#3 - You are not required to accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer.
If you don’t believe the insurance company’s first settlement offer is reasonable, you are not required to accept it. In fact, most insurance companies don’t offer a fair settlement right off the bat, so most claimants have to continue fighting for the compensation that’s fair.
#4 - You are not required to use the body shop that the insurance company recommends.
While the auto body shop the insurance company recommends may be an efficient and highly-rated shop, it may not be the best shop to use. If you have a body shop that you’ve used in the past and are comfortable with, you are entitled to using that shop.
Insurance companies often receive discounts from the body shops they recommend, so using their suggested shop will likely benefit them more than it’ll benefit you. Whatever shop you decide to hire, make sure they don’t use aftermarket parts on your vehicle. These parts are often not made as well as stock parts and are more likely to cause problems for your vehicle in the future.
#5 - Don’t sign anything.
You should never sign anything from another person’s insurance company without first consulting your attorney. The insurance company will likely request your signature on documents that you’re not legally required to sign.
Insurance companies do this in order to obtain your personal information, but they’re not legally entitled to it. It’s common practice for insurance companies to request information, such as your social security number, and/or ask you to sign releases to gather your medical or employment records.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to provide your social security number or sign any documents in order for your claim to be processed. In fact, signing these documents can actually hurt your claim significantly.
Insurance companies want to find out as much personal information about you as possible so they can use who you are as a person to value your claim. They’ll use anything they can against you, so be tight with the information you provide.
Your own insurance company will also likely ask you to sign documents in order to process your benefits. You need to comply with your own insurance company if you want to access coverages. An attorney will be able to help you determine which documents you need to sign in order to comply with your own insurance company to access your available coverages, and which documents you do not need to sign because they are not necessary and might harm your claim.
Even if you’re fairly certain that you understand the documents they’re asking you to sign, you may not fully understand the claims process and all of the implications that signing such documents can mean for your claim.
To be safe, it’s best to have as little contact with the insurance company as possible.
We’re Here for Your Support
If you’ve been involved in an injury-sustaining car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Our attorney, James “Jim” Dore, here at Dore Law Group, PLLC is highly skilled in the area of car accident personal injury law and has helped many other people just like you receive the compensation they deserved. Let our team see if we can help you, too. Don’t delay—contact our office with your case right away.
Give our Kent personal injury attorney at Dore Law Group, PLLC a call today at (253) 236-3888 to discuss your case.