Monday, January 28, 2008

Filing Car Insurance Claim & How to Deal With Auto Insurance Claims

1.Filing Car Insurance Claim

One of life's least enjoyable moments can be even a teeny-tiny car accident. Nevertheless, accidents happen, and sooner or later, we all have the experience of meeting one of our fellow road travelers up close and personal. Look through the following seven steps of filing your claim will help you get over this speed bump as smoothly as possible.

Comprehend your policy
Sit down and carefully read your insurance policy before a loss. If you have any questions about what is or is not covered, call your agent or company.

Exchange information
If an accident happened, get the other driver's name, address, phone number, insurance carrier, and insurer's phone number. Give the same information about yourself to the other driver. Insurers' telephone numbers can be found on the proof-of-insurance cards that should be carried on your person when operating a motor vehicle.

Identify witnesses
Take the names and phone numbers of the witnesses in case their account of the accident is needed.

File an accident report
To have an accident report prepared contact local law enforcement officers. If you can’t reach law enforcement, accident reports and detailed instructions are available at all police departments, sheriff's offices, your local Department of Motor Vehicles office, and on your local Department of Motor Vehicles' web site.

Inform your insurer
Come into contact with your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. The accident report will be reviewed by an insurance adjuster who will determine who caused the accident. If you don’t cause the accident, you can have either your insurance company or the at-fault driver's insurance company handle the repair or replacement of your vehicle. If you are the client of the other driver's company, you will not have a claim on your automobile policy and you will not have to pay a deductible.

Do not release insurers too early
Until the damages are settled to your satisfaction, do not relieve your insurance company of its responsibility. For instance, have your insurance company handle the claim if the other party's insurance company questions its policyholder's negligence or offers an unacceptable settlement.

Take into account these settlement factors
Bodily injuries: Monetary settlement may be entitled for you for injuries caused by another at fault (liable) party. Some injuries can become apparent in several days.

Damages: Reasonable cost of repairs to your vehicle is paid by the insurance company. the damage is evaluated by an insurance adjuster. Normally, insurance companies and auto body shops negotiate disagreements about what should be repaired. You have the right to obtain another appraisal at any auto body shop, if you are not satisfied with their conclusions.

Appraisal clause: An appraisal clause is included in most auto insurance policies, which can be used to help resolve disputes between you and your insurance company about physical damage claims. You or your insurer can initiate the appraisal clause, if you cannot reach an agreement with your company. To resolve the dispute your appraiser and your insurer's appraiser then select an independent umpire. Read carefully your policy or ask your agent or insurance company for more information about the appraisal clause.

2.How to Deal With Auto Insurance Claims

Insurance exists with the purpose of paying for claims. An insurance company and a policyholder conclude an agreement. It is important to read and understand your policy as it include all duties, reasons for claims, amount of money you may get, exclusions, and failure causes. No one insurance company can just refuse to satisfy legitimate claims if there were no violations.

Buying an auto insurance policy, you agree to behave in a prescribed way and perform certain duties after a loss has occurred. You may find these duties in the section of the policy entitled “Conditions”. If you failure to perform one duty at least, the insurance company may refuse to pay the claim.

Usually you are required to inform the insurance company of any loss that has happened. This may include the time and place of an accident, information about damages and injured person etc. Some of the insurer requires your help in the investigation, settlement or defense of claims.
Obligation to provide a defense for you if you are sued may also be included into your auto insurance policy. In that case the insurance company selects a lawyer and pays for all legal fees.

In your part you must inform the insurance company of an accident at once. Otherwise the insurance company may accuse you of preventing from doing an investigation or taking any other actions. As a result the insurance company may reduce the amount of claim or even deny to pay for charges on the legal ground.
All you steps should be coordinated with your insurance company. It that case you will be protected from company's repayment refuse.

However the insurance company may refuse to pay a claim produced by its policyholder. It may be caused some instances. For example, your insurer may decide that your auto insurance policy doesn’t cover such type of damages or a court found you guilty of auto insurance fraud.

If you feel that you haven’t got the appropriate solution of your claim, ask for reassessment of your claims from the appraisal service or the arbitration service of your insurance company. Besides you can turn to your own state’s insurance department for help.

You may also call the consumer complaint department. Ask the name of the person whom you talked in the consumer complaint department and send photocopies of all the documents to him. In some cases he may be able to help you.

Finally you may call a toll free consumer information service 1-800-942-4242. This service is sponsored by the insurance industry and is available Monday to Friday, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Specially trained personnel can assist and answer your questions relating to auto insurance complaints.

If you steel have any doubts concerning legality of the insurance company’s decision, consult with an attorney, who is specialized in handling auto insurance cases.

Anyway, an insurance company pays for claims only up to your coverage limit. All fees that exceed a policy limit are your responsibility.