Picture this scenario and decide if you would know what to do:
You’re headed home from the bar after having dinner in downtown Mesa with your friends. You’re good to drive because you only had one beer hours ago. As you head West on Main Street, though, out of nowhere, a car pulls out from Robson Street and slams into your vehicle, catapulting your car into more traffic and causing a huge backup.
Take a breath. Stay calm. What’s your next move?
Top 3 Steps to Take Right After a Vehicle Collision
#1 – Stay Calm and Ensure Your Safety
Try to focus. Get your car out of traffic if possible. Check yourself and all passengers for injuries. Call 9-1-1 if it’s needed. Not sure? Call anyway. Give the police a call as well. They’ll need to file a report.
#2 – Be Smart
You should be polite, but absolutely never admit fault. Speak to the other driver(s) in a calm manner. Ask for their names, contact information, and driver’s license number. Write down their license plate number. Get their insurance company name and their policy number. Speak to witnesses and take pictures of the scene.
#3 – Get in Touch With Your Insurance Agency
Your insurance agent should be the first number you call after calling for medical help and contacting the police.
How Does the Claims Process Work?
Once you’ve notified your insurance agency that you’d like to make a claim, you need to get an estimate from a mechanic. This estimate will let your auto insurance company know how much it will be to fix your vehicle completely.
In some situations, your coverage may not be enough to cover this amount, so your insurance company may decide to change or refuse the estimate you give them. This evaluation is called out by an insurance adjuster who will evaluate the estimate and your policy.
If no “adjustments” need to be made to your estimate, however, your estimate will be approved, and you can tell your mechanic to carry on with the repairs. Sometimes, an insurance adjuster will decide that the cost of repairs is more than 70% of the value of your vehicle. And in this case, they will usually deem that your car is ”totaled.” When you have a totaled car, you’ll get a check for purchasing a replacement car instead of paying for repairs to your old vehicle.
Remember to check with your insurance agency to see whether or not you have optional coverage as well. This may include rental car insurance so that you have a replacement car to drive while yours is in the shop.
Or possibly, your optional coverage may be GAP or loan/lease coverage. This takes care of the difference between the actual cash value of your car and any amount of money you may still own on a lease or loan. Finally, new car replacement coverage can replace a totaled car that has less than 15,000 miles and is less than one year old with another brand new car.
How You Can Prevent Problems With the Claims Process
To prevent issues during the claims process and reap the most benefits from your policy in the event of an accident, you must have a sound policy to begin with. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
Working with a reputable insurance agency is the best place to start. At Harnish Insurance, our auto insurance policies are affordable and comprehensive. Want to look at your current policy or create a new one? Stop by or give us a call to speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable agents today.