What is more stressful? Being in a car accident or making a car accident insurance claim? If you have been in both situations, then you know you can’t choose either of the two. As an intelligent driver, the best you can do is to avoid an accident in the first place.

But if this is not possible and an accident ensues, the only thing you can do is to pursue an accident claim from your insurer. Just like any other business, insurance companies are out to make money and making large compensations does not exactly help them do so.

As a result, these companies will want to fight their way out of paying the amount owed.  To ascertain your claim, insurance firms will want to investigate your claim, make revisions e to your policy and evaluate your damages before they arrange your payment.  This is what makes the process frustrating and time-consuming.

To make the process less stressful, it is important that you know your rights and responsibilities as a driver. You also need to understand all the steps involved in settling a car accident claim. Here are the 5 critical steps you need to be aware of:

1. Document  Everything

Whenever you get into an accident, the first thing you should do is to take the other driver’s insurance information. Failure to do so will make it impossible for you to file a claim.  Take pictures and videos of the vehicles involved in the accident and the scene at large. In the case of external physical injuries, take pictures of the scars when they are still fresh since some cuts, scrapes, and bruises heal fast.

It is also important to file a police report at the time of the accident; it will help you in building a strong case when making the claim, if you are not in a position to do so, have a friend do it for you.

2. Get medical attention

Many times people get into accidents and think that they are fine only to realize later that they actually got injuries that were not external. Apart from a delayed recovery, late discovery of accident injuries affect your insurance claim process. This is because it creates room for doubt on whether the injuries were actually a direct result of the accident.

The only way to prove your injuries were indeed caused by the accident is to get medical attention immediately you get involved in an accident. By getting immediate medical attention, you not only strengthen your claim, but you also get your invisible injuries identified and treated on time. Ensure that t include the doctor’s report in your insurance claim documents referred to in the first step.

3. Contact your insurance company

Once your injuries are treated, it’s time to talk to your insurance company representative. The rep will ask you questions and send you documents to fill out in order to process your claim.

Ensure that you review your insurance policy thoroughly so you know what you are entitled to.  Present your insurer with all the relevant information including the evidence gathered. Above all, remember to keep detailed information of phone conversations you’ve had since the accident including names, dates, times and even the titles of the people you’ve spoken to. Throughout this process, be truthful – telling a lie could cost you your coverage.

Always remember that it is well within your right to allow or deny the insurance provider to record your phone conversations. Bear in mind that insurance companies are in the business of making money so do not feel obligated to automatically accept the appraisal or estimated losses provided to you by your insurance representative.

4. Document all expenses related to your claim

Car accidents are characterized by financial difficulties that range g from medical care and supplies, alternate transport costs, expenses paid by people who helped you, to income lost as a result of the accident. Keeping a good record of these expenses can come in handy in the event of a lawsuit.

A lawsuit arises when you fail to reach an agreement and your insurer during negotiations. One important thing to bear in mind is that an insurance company will always offer you a lower amount than you think you are owed because they are in business too. This should not in any way offend you. Instead, be firm and patient during the negotiation process and above all, be aware of what you are owed. That way you’ll know what to reject and what to accept.

5. Hire an attorney

The process of settling car accident claims involves legal procedures and documents that can be long and difficult for a layman to understand. It is therefore important to hire a motorcycle accident claims lawyer to help clear any doubts you might have. A lawyer will also guide you in case you are asked to sign documents that you don’t really understand and protect you against exploitation by the insurance company.

A lawyer will also guarantee that you get what you are legally entitled to and that you do exactly what you are supposed to do to have a successful claim. This ensures that you do not pay for a lack of legal knowledge. Also note that unlike insurance companies that stand to gain when you don’t make an insurance claim, a lawyer will only benefit if your claim is successful. As such, lawyers will always work towards maximizing your benefit.

By Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.

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