Being involved in a car accident can really affect your whole state of mind. But while it may seem like the last thing that you want to do in the aftermath of a collision, you should start to think about what you are going to say to your insurer. Based on important information provided by knowledegable car accident attorneys at Rutter Mills in Virginia regarding contacting your insurance, you will need to think about the best way to approach what has happened as saying the wrong thing can later harm your chance of financial recovery or winning compensation in a court of law.
Is It Necessary to File a Police Report?
There is no need to report a car accident if it only involved a single vehicle which sustained little more than cosmetic damage. However, in cases where anyone was injured or killed, or where significant damage has been done to one or more vehicles in the collision, it is important to file a police report as soon as you are medically able. In some jurisdictions, you may face a penalty for not doing so, aside from the fact that failure to report the incident to the relevant authorities can harm your chances of winning a compensation claim for medical costs or loss of earnings in court at a later date should you decide to go down that avenue.
When to Contact Your Insurance Company
Having filed a police report and gotten a medical check-up if you have been injured, the next step is to call your insurance company to inform them of the accident. If the collision was your fault, your insurance company will want to know all of the details surrounding the incident and will seek access to the official police and medical reports to assess your liability based on a judgement of your negligence. If the cause of the accident is shared or unclear, your insurance company will then conduct its own investigation. Following this, they will communicate with the insurance companies of the other parties to the crash to arrive at a financial settlement which reflects proportional blame.
You should contact your insurance company on either the day of the accident or the following in order to avoid raising suspicions about your claim. If you do not report the incident straight away, your insurance company may reserve the right to deny your claim and refuse to represent you in any court proceedings. If this happens, you may find that you are personally liable to cover damages done to the other party if the court rules against you. You may also be required to pay court costs, which can potentially leave you significantly out of pocket.
How Should I Approach the Call with the Insurance Company?
Before the call with the insurance company, you should bear in mind that you will need to provide the information listed below. Make sure that you have all that you need on hand to ensure that the process is as straightforward as possible.
- The name, address, phone number and insurance details of the other parties involved in the collision
- The make, model, color and year of the other vehicle(s) involved in the collision
- The place, date and time of the accident
- Details of the agency with which the accident report was filed (state highway patrol, municipal police, county sheriff, etc.)
- Basic information about the accident, such as the weather conditions, who was at fault and how fast the vehicles were traveling at the time
As a general rule, it is best to keep your cards relatively close to your chest when speaking to your insurance company. Answer their questions in a straightforward and transparent way, but avoid supplementing your answers with extra information regarding your feelings, and do not ‘fill in the gaps’ with information that you cannot prove. Under no circumstances should you admit to liability – wait for the insurance company to conduct their own investigation into who was at fault.
General Rules of Conduct During a Conversation with an Insurance Company
In preparing for your call with the insurance company, it is instructive to observe the following rules of thumb:
- Keep calm. It is natural to feel strongly about what has happened, especially if you feel that it was not your fault. Nonetheless, letting your anger or frustration overflow during the call will not win you any favors with your claim.
- Avoid speculation. Reply with “I’m not sure” or “I don’t remember” if you cannot recall what happened.
- Take notes on the conversation. This will make sure that your claim remains consistent.
- Do not sign any forms or admit responsibility without first consulting your attorney.
Always Use an Attorney
Before you proceed with your claim, you should always call your attorney for advice. If you have not got one, you should locate a reputable law firm with experience in litigating car accident claims. Most operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, and the advice they provide will prove to be invaluable in the coming weeks and months.