After a car accident, on thing you will likely do is to file a claim with your auto insurance company.
If you've never filed an insurance claim before, you might find yourself in unfamiliar territory.
The process might seem daunting at times. But here are a few pointers on filing an insurance claim:
- Read the terms of your insurance policy. Take note of what's covered, what isn't covered, and what your deductibles are, The New York Times suggests.
- Report the accident immediately. If you waste any time in filing a complaint, you might find that it's too late.
- Be accurate. Getting even the tiniest of details wrong could cost you a lot of time.
- Take photos. Good photos of the damage will help speed the process along.
- Keep track of medical care and medical bills. Get a doctor's opinion about your injuries. A physician's assessment will be important.
- Keep all documentation. A paper trail is very important. Keep everything in a file and try to get everything in writing. If you must communicate with the insurance company on the phone, try to follow up with email. If you can't, then take the effort to take down good notes.
- You don't have to accept the first settlement they offer you. You have the right to turn down a settlement if it's not what you want. You don't have to accept the first settlement the insurance company throws at you.
- Know why you're denied. If you're denied, ask for the denial in writing. Also, ask them to refer you to the clause, under your insurance contract, that supports your denial.
- Ask questions. If you don't agree with the insurance company, ask questions.
- File a formal complaint. If all else fails, you can always file a formal complaint. At first, you should try to file one with the insurance company's management. If you need to go further, file a complaint with the Department of Financial Services.
- Top Ten Tips on Filing a Fire Insurance Claim (FindLaw)
- Car Insurance Claims: Dos and Don'ts (FindLaw)
- FindLaw's Post-Car Accident Checklist: Simple, Yet Brilliant (FindLaw's New York Personal Injury Law Blog)
- Consult a New York Personal Injury Law Attorney (FindLaw)