February 6, 2011

What To Know Before Making An Auto Insurance Claim

For years you have paid your auto insurance premiums on time, you never speed and you've always driven carefully and defensively. Then, one day it happens. You're involved in a car accident and it is time to contact the insurance company and file an auto insurance claim. What do you need to know prior to filing your claim? Here are some quick and handy car insurance tips:

What is the other driver's information?

Obtaining the other driver's personal information is absolutely essential to filing a claim. Both your auto insurance company and hers will ask for this information when you go to file the car insurance claim. Keep a notebook and pen in your vehicle's glove box for recording the details of your accident, and be sure to write neatly and clearly. Among the things you want to find out are: the other driver's full legal name, address and phone number. Obtain the name of her car insurance company and the policy number. If possible, also record her driver's license number and the the vehicle's license plate number.

Which company should you contact?

When it comes to reporting the accident, you can report it to your insurance company, to her insurance company or to both carriers. It may be that you believe the other driver was entirely at fault, and therefore wish to go through her insurance company for repairs. Her insurance company will investigate the accident, and it is required to listen to your version of events. However, do not assume that her insurance company will automatically place her at fault and agree to pay for your damages. The words to listen for are: "We have accepted liability for the accident" or "We have placed our driver 100 percent at fault and are offering to pay for your damages."

What if the other company denies your claim?

Should you file an auto insurance claim with the other driver's carrier only to have it denied, you have two other options for recovery. If possible, typically your best choice is to contact your own car insurance company and have it pay for your repairs. Your carrier will conduct its own investigation. In the event of a disagreement over responsibility, car insurance companies have methods of working out liability disagreements. However, if you find yourself unable to go through your own insurance company, you can consider taking the other driver to civil court. Your claims adjuster will be able to advise you further on how to do so.

If you are unfortunate enough to experience an auto accident, these car insurance tips may help you to avoid unnecessary heartache and aggravation.