Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatizing and frustrating experience, even if you are not seriously injured. Regardless of any injuries sustained, you will probably still need to file a claim with the insurance company for the damages to your vehicle.
Auto insurance companies can be a challenge to deal with, even on the best of days. It’s wise to keep the following at the top of your mind: Insurance representatives are highly trained professionals and can be, at times, master manipulators.
Read on to learn five tips to help you deal with the insurance company after a car crash.
#1 - Don’t speak with the insurance company before you consult a skilled car accident attorney.
It’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced car accident attorney before talking to the insurance company about the wreck. Insurance representatives often use recorded statements to gather information from you that they are not entitled to.
They may use your information to try to take advantage of you since they assume you are unfamiliar with the claims process, which automatically puts you at a disadvantage. The insurance adjuster you speak with may be friendly and appear to be helpful, but keep in mind that this person does not have your best interest at heart.
It’s a good idea to have a skilled car accident attorney by your side when you provide your statement. You may be asked questions by the insurance company in a leading way, which can get you to say things to hurt your claim. This strategy is common in the insurance industry to trick you into providing information that gives them an advantage.
Your attorney will provide you with guidance to help you through the process and will describe ways for you to present your statement in a way that helps you avoid making expensive errors with your claim.
Keep in mind: It’s always best to have your lawyer with you when you provide your statement to the insurance company.
#2 - You have several options for providing your statement.
If you don’t feel comfortable providing your accident statement to the insurance company over the phone, you don’t have to do it that way. In fact, you have the following three options for providing the insurance company with your accident statement:
- Over the phone
- In writing
- Your attorney may provide your statement for you
Providing a statement over the phone can feel pressured and uncomfortable, so many people find it more pleasant to provide a statement in writing. If you’re not a wordsmith or anything close to one, thinking carefully about what you want to say to the insurance company by writing down your statement may be a better choice.
If you don’t feel confident in providing a statement at all, you may want to have your attorney do it for you. Your attorney will know the things to say, and more importantly, the things not to say, to the insurance company.
#3 - You don’t have to take the insurance company’s first settlement offer.
In fact, it is often unwise to accept the first offer the insurance company provides. It is a common practice in the insurance industry to offer claimants a significantly lower settlement than what they truly deserve to see if it makes them go away.
If the initial settlement you’re offered is inadequate (and it probably will be), don’t stop fighting. Let the insurance company know that you expect to receive a fair and just settlement and won’t back down until you do.
#4 - The insurance company can’t force you to use the body shop they recommend.
Insurance companies often recommend shops that are efficient, and many are highly-rated, but that doesn’t mean you are required to use the shop they suggest. You have the right to use a body shop that you are comfortable with, even if it’s not the one the insurance company wants you to use.
You see, insurance companies frequently work deals with body shops that are mutually beneficial. That means the insurance company will likely receive a discount if you use the body shop they recommend. However, that doesn’t mean the savings will be passed on to you—it just means that the insurance company gets to save money on your claim.
No matter what shop you hire, make sure they only use stock parts on your vehicle instead of aftermarket parts. Aftermarket parts are not always as reliable as stock parts and have a greater probability of causing problems for your vehicle in the future.
#5 - Don’t provide your signature.
Don’t sign anything from another person’s insurance company without talking to your attorney about it first. You may be asked to sign documents that you’re not legally required to sign.
This is done so that insurance companies can gain access to your personal information, even though they’re not legally entitled to it. It’s an industry standard to ask for your personal information, like your social security number, and/or request that you sign releases in order to obtain your medical or employment records.
You DO NOT have to give them your social security number or sign any forms in order for them to process your claim. As a matter of fact, if you sign these documents, you can potentially hurt your claim in a big way.
Insurance companies want to obtain as much personal information about you as they can because they want to use who you are as a person to value your claim. They’ll use any information possible against you, so be highly cautious about what you tell them.
Your own insurance company may also request that you sign documents so that they can process your benefits. In order to access your coverages, you’ll need to comply with their requests.
A skilled car accident attorney will be able to tell you which documents to sign in to be in compliance with your own insurance company so that you can access your available coverages, as well as which documents to avoid signing if they are unnecessary and can damage your claim.
You may think that you understand the documents they are requesting that you sign, but you may not completely understand the claims process and what the significance is of signing such documents.
It’s best to err on the side of caution—have as little contact with the insurance company as possible.
We Can Help
You may be owed compensation if you’ve been injured in an accident that you didn’t cause. Our attorney, Paul A. Shapiro, is highly skilled in the area of car accident personal injury law and has helped many other people just like you obtain the compensation they needed when they needed it most. Let our team see if we can help you, too. Don’t wait—contact our office with your case right away.