Every year millions of consumers file claims with their insurance agents and insurance companies. Not every claim needs to be filed by a lawyer. However, you should have a basic understanding of the claims process. The trauma of an auto accident or theft is stressful enough and you do not want to be victimized by insurance company adjusters.
Property Damage & Personal Injury Claims
Auto accidents are a common occurrence, yet many people have little understanding of the insurance claims process. There are two basic types of claims. The first involves loss or damage to your automobile which is called a property damage claim. The second type is a claim which arises when you suffer an injury because of someone else’s fault called a personal injury claim. For example, if someone runs a stop sign and hits your vehicle, you may be entitled to payment for the damages to your vehicle and any injuries that you may have suffered. These claims may be settled with the other party’s insurance company with or without a lawyer. Therefore, you should have some general understanding of auto claims.
To cover these two key areas, Property and Personal Injury, most auto policies divide the coverage into the following categories:
- Auto liability covers damage to other people’s property and injuries to the people.
- Collision covers damage to your own vehicle.
- Other than Collision” or “Comprehensive” coverage pays to repair damage to your car caused by fire, theft, vandalism, natural disaster or similar events.
- Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments, guarantees a portion of medical payments for you, your passengers and other parties involved in the accident, regardless of who is at fault. The point is to help someone who is injured get the necessary medical attention and deal with the issue of fault, if necessary, later. This coverage may also provide reimbursement for a portion of your lost wages.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorists coverages protect you if you are injured in an accident with others who themselves do not carry enough insurance or have no liability insurance.
Other Coverage Claims
There are additional coverage claims such as towing and temporary replacement vehicles that may be available for you through your own auto insurance policy. In fact, just about any contingency can be covered by adding clauses and conditions known as endorsements or riders to your standard auto insurance policy.
What is a Deductible?
When you file a claim for property or loss, the payment made by the insurance company is subject to a deductible. Basically, when you purchase your insurance policy, you agree to pay the first specified amount of any damage as your share of the cost of repair or replacement. The insurance company adjusts its rates accordingly, charging less for those who agree to pay a larger first share–or deductible. For example, if your car should sustain damages costing $2,000 to repair and you have a deductible of $250, you would pay $250 and the insurance company would pay $1,750.
After an Accident
Other than the investigating law enforcement officer and notifying your insurance company you should avoid conversations with others about the accident. You do not want to inadvertently waive any of your rights in the case. You also do not want to provide any recorded statements without understanding the important issues involved. It is too easy to be taken advantage of by professional claims adjusters if you do not understand the importance of the questions being asked. You should also take photos of the vehicles involved, the scene of the accident and of any injuries you may have suffered. The names and addresses of any witnesses and of the other drivers and passengers will also be important.
When the Time Comes
If you do suffer property damage or injury, you may file a claim. You will be asked to fill out a claim form by your insurance company–the formal document on which you request benefits to be paid according to the terms of the policy. Be complete and accurate and if necessary supply your insurance company with relevant documentation such as auto repair bills, medical bills, and a copy of the police report.
Be sure to keep a copy of your claim and any associated paperwork for your records. You may need to refer to it in the future. If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. At Florida Trial MD, we have been helping folks with auto insurance claims for nearly twenty years. You may call us at 407-244-1212 or contact us online about your claim.