After an accident, the key to dealing with insurance companies is understanding the terms of your policy. Make sure to report your accident on time and know what kind of coverage you are entitled to. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask your insurance adjuster, and if you do not like the way your insurance company is treating you, remember you have rights and legal options.
Before you involve your insurance company in the aftermath of a car crash or another accident, document exactly what happened. Take photos of all accident-related damages, the scene of the accident, and any injuries that may have occurred. Swap contact information with everyone who was involved in or witnessed the accident and write down your version of what happened while it is still fresh in your mind.
If you can think of anything else that might help you paint a picture of the accident, document it. You can never have too much evidence when it comes to an insurance claim.
Important: always call the police after a car accident and never leave the scene of a crash until police officers give you permission to do so. If the police come to the scene, ask for a copy of the police report.
File Your Claim
New York is a no-fault car insurance state, so you will always begin the claims process by filing a claim against your own insurance company. If you need medical treatment, you can pay for it out-of-pocket and request reimbursement or ask the doctor or hospital to submit bills directly to your insurance company.
Keep in mind you must report the accident promptly and file a written notice of claim to trigger most insurance policies in the state of New York.
Medical claims are different than physical damage claims, but your insurance company must handle both claims promptly and fairly.
Do Your Research
If you are filing a property damage claim, be sure to research the cost of repairs. If you get multiple estimates from trusted and well-reviewed mechanics and body shops, you will know how much it will cost to repair your vehicle.
This way, if the insurance company offers you less than it should, you will be ready to negotiate.
Prepare to Negotiate
The insurance company may offer you a settlement that fails to account for all your damages. If this is the case, you will need to use your research estimates to make a counteroffer. You can also ask the insurance adjuster to explain their reasoning, so you can address those points specifically.
Expect to exchange a few offers before reaching a settlement. If you feel uncomfortable with this process, you can always consult an attorney, and you should talk to an attorney before signing any settlement agreement.
Beware of Recorded Statements
If an insurance adjuster asks to record your care, be very careful. Anything you say can be used to reduce the value of your claim later on. Stick to the facts whenever possible and do not speculate about fault, damages, or anything else.
Always use thoughtful language when interacting with insurance adjusters and keep track of every conversation you have.
Again, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to an insurance adjuster or giving a recorded statement, you can ask a lawyer for help. If you ever feel like an insurance adjuster is intentionally trying to confuse or manipulate you, call an attorney immediately.
What If I Am Having Trouble Settling My Claim?
Before you do anything else, let your insurance professional know you are unhappy. You may need to file an official complaint as part of your case against the company.
Once you have done this, you will need to prepare the rest of your case. This is a perfect time to contact an attorney because your lawyer can help you back up your argument with facts and figures.
You can also contact your state insurance company to document your complaint and decide whether you want to file a lawsuit or choose arbitration.
You can involve an attorney at any point in the insurance process, but your attorney should not move forward without your permission. In fact, attorneys cannot accept a settlement on your behalf unless you agree to it.
An Important Note About Insurance Companies
While insurance adjusters can be friendly and helpful, their job is to minimize liability and maximize profits for the insurance company. Insurance companies always have their own best interests at heart, which is why many claimants need someone with their best interests at heart.
At the Law Offices of Charles R. Gueli, we work on contingency fees, which means we don’t get paid unless we win your case. This means our interests are directly tied with yours, and we are dedicated to helping you get the best possible settlement.
We are also available 24/7 to resolve insurance disputes whenever they arise, and you will work directly with your attorney to come up with a personalized solution.
Get started with a free consultation – call us at (516) 628-6402 or contact us online to schedule yours today.
In the meantime, you may also like to read: “What the Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Why You NEED to Hire an Attorney After an Accident.”