When most people buy auto insurance, they focus on the policy’s cost. They usually trust that the coverage they purchase will be sufficient to handle any accidents that may happen, but they don’t always research the claims process. When an accident happens, they may realize that there are some things they don’t understand, and an insurance company may not be eager to explain. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about insurance claims.
1. You don’t have to file the claim with your insurer.
If you are not at fault for the accident, you don’t have to call your insurance company at all. You can file the claim with the insurance of the person who hit you, and they will be liable for your repairs and rental car. This is true even if you don’t have coverage on your vehicle, and you won’t need to pay a deductible.
2. Your insurance company doesn’t want you to get an attorney.
Depending on the facts of the loss, you may or may not benefit from the services of an attorney, but an insurance company will never encourage you to get one. It’s against the insurer’s interests, since attorneys nearly always negotiate larger payouts.
3. Your insurance will offer to settle for injuries.
After an accident, your insurance company will approach you with a settlement offer for injuries. This will usually be between $500 and $1,000. If you accept the settlement, the claim will be resolved quickly, but you will not be able to get any more money for injuries. It’s almost always in your best interests to reject the initial settlement and demand more money after you have a clear idea of how much your medical expenses will cost.
4. You might not get as much for your car.
If your car is a total loss, you might not get as much for it as you’re expecting. Your car’s total loss value is determined by taking its market value and adjusting it based on the car’s mileage and condition. Your car may be worth much less to your insurer than you would have gotten for selling it. The total loss settlement is negotiable, though, and you can get a higher price if you have an independent adjuster appraise its value.
5. There may be expenses you have to pay for that you’re not expecting.
Most insurance companies have limits as to what they will pay for rental cars, storage costs, towing charges, and other expenses. The only way to know for sure what you will have to pay out of pocket is to ask. Be sure to hold onto your receipts for any expenses in case you can have them reimbursed.
Ultimately, insurance companies try to spend the least possible amount on handling a claim. This is not to say that they’ll always cut corners or give poor-quality work, but it does mean that they’re not always generous with information that could save you money on claims. If you’re involved in an accident, it’s a good idea to do as much independent research as possible to make sure you’re protecting yourself.
Brenda Hartman writes about tips and secrets to successfully navigating car insurance. If you are looking for a better, more reliable insurance deal, Brenda recommends looking into car insurance for business.
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