Tips for reporting insurance claims
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 5,000,000 motor vehicle accidents occur each year. What information would you need to file an insurance claim if you were involved in an Car Accident? These tips are provided by the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking to help you get the information you need after a crash.
Make sure you are prepared
It’s crucial to fully understand your auto insurance policy before you take the roads. Your vehicle is the insurance policy, and not the driver. Keep a copy your current insurance card with you in the car, along with any other important documents.
Ask your agent to describe the key elements of your policy, including your deductibles and liability limits. If your insurance company offers this coverage, you might want to add uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This clause can protect you in the event of an accident with uninsured/underinsured drivers. For more information about your policy, please see this consumer alert.
Talk to your teen driver’s parents about the dangers of unsafe driving. Research has shown that teens who have their parents set driving rules are less likely to be in an accident. Here are some tips to help prepare your teenagers for safe driving.
Make sure your teenagers are safe while driving
Your child’s safety should be your top concern as a parent. While you can’t always be there for your child, there are ways you can help to keep them safe behind the wheel. It can save lives and money to educate your teen driver about unsafe driving and the insurance implications.
While teens driving statistics are concerning, research shows that parents who establish rules reduce accident risk by half. Discuss your expectations of behind-the wheel behavior.
- Create a formal Teen Driving Contract which clearly defines the rules for driving privileges.
- Establish a driving restriction. Between 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., more than 40% of teenage auto deaths happen.
- Limit the number of teens allowed to drive in your car. Teenagers are at greater risk of being killed in a car accident if there is more passengers.
- All cell phone usage should be prohibited while driving. Talking on or texting while driving can increase the chance of an accident by up to twofold.
- Encourage your teen’s right to be a passenger. Only 44% of teens would be willing to speak out if someone drove in a way they were afraid.
Keep your costs down
It can be expensive to add a teen driver on your auto insurance policy. It can be costly to add a teen driver to your auto insurance policy. Take a look at these tips:
Keep your teen’s driving record clean from moving violations and accidents. Drivers with clean driving records for at least three years are eligible to receive discounts from many companies.
Register your teen for a defensive driving class. If your teen takes a defensive driving course, some companies will offer discounts.
Encourage your teen’s to maintain a high grade-point average. Teens with good grades may be eligible for discounts or preferential rates from insurance companies.
Ask your insurance company for an “accident forgiveness” clause. This clause guarantees that premiums won’t increase after one minor incident.
Consider increasing your policy’s maximum deductible, and limiting your teen’s ability to drive the oldest and most expensive vehicle in your family. Auto insurance premiums in most states are tied to the type and price of the vehicle. Insurers will typically charge more for SUVs, sports cars and convertibles.
Install a smartphone app that restricts or prohibits texting while driving.
After an Accident
An accident can cause stress and chaos. It’s not easy to know what to do after an accident. Many people don’t know what information they should share and get from the other driver. Your name and information about your insurance would be very helpful for the driver. Identity theft could be possible if you divulge more information than this, such as your driver’s license number or address.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners created WRECKCHECK, an app that is free for both Android and iPhone users. It helps to take the stress out of filing insurance claims and collecting information. The app guides you through the steps of creating an accident report. WRECKCHECK lets you take photos and only document what is required to file an insurance claim. The accident report can be sent to your agent and yourself. You can also download the checklist [PDF] here to save in your glove box if you don’t own a smartphone.
These are some additional tips for what to do right away after an accident.
- Keep calm and evaluate the situation. If it is unsafe, do not get out of the car.
- Inform the police about any injuries. If they are not available, you can file an accident report. This could help you in your claim.
- Be polite, but don’t admit to fault.
- Contact information and names of witnesses.
How to file a claim
It is best to begin the claims process as soon after the accident has occurred as you still have the details. Call your agent or insurance company and provide the following information: the incident report from the police, your insurance information, and a copy the accident report you made at the scene. During any conversation you have with auto shops, insurance companies or claims adjusters, take down the contact information and name of the person you spoke to.
Your insurance company should be able file the claim on your behalf and coordinate with other insurance companies. You may be asked to interview the insurance company of the other driver in order to help them investigate the incident. An auto repair shop or claims adjuster will most likely inspect the damage to your car and speak with you about it. The findings of the adjuster will be used by your insurance company as the basis for their settlement.
Ask your insurance company which coverage you have for damage to vehicles, rental car costs and medical expenses. These expenses can vary depending on who was at fault, the coverage you have and where you live.