So far, it’s just like any other day…
You’re on your way to work, listening to the latest hit from Pharrell — when, all of a sudden, you hear squealing brakes and crunching metal. The jolt is a big one, and that’s when you realize YOU were just involved in an accident! Luckily, you seem to be OK, but your car isn’t. You’ve got to get it fixed as soon as possible, which means you’ve got to get your insurance claim taken care of as soon as possible.
But how exactly do you do that?
Your accident may have taken place in a split second, but unfortunately, it can take much longer to get your insurance claim resolved. Your insurance company will need to start by documenting all of the details surrounding your accident. Then, they’ll have to take a look at the damage and figure out how much it will cost to fix it. If there’s any debate as to which driver was at fault, that will have to be sorted out, too. When you see everything that goes into the claim process, it’s easy to see how your claim can drag on much longer than you’d like!
Luckily, though, there are certain things you can do to help speed up the process. Here’s what we suggest:
Don’t panic at the scene
Yes, car accidents are scary, and it’s normal to be shaken up after you’ve been in one. However, if you panic, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on important information that you’ll need for your claim later. After all, your insurance company needs all of the details — like where the accident occurred, who was riding in each car, who witnessed the crash, and what the police did when they responded (including the report number if the officer wrote up a report!). If you jot down all of this information at the scene, your insurance company won’t have to go on a wild goose chase for it later.
It’s also a good idea to snap some pictures at the scene. The appraiser for your insurance company will take pictures of your car when he evaluates the damage, but it’s impossible to have TOO many photos. For all you know, a picture you took at the scene could contain some important detail that your insurance company needs to process your claim faster!
Talk to your adjuster
Your adjuster is in charge of handling your claim, so the better your relationship is with him, the sooner your claim can likely be taken care of! For example, ask him what information he needs to process the claim and get it to him. The less time he has to spend hunting down specifics, the less time you’ll have to wait for your life to return to normal after a crash.
Take advantage of technology
Your smartphone will come in awfully handy when you take pictures at the scene of the crash, but it can be a valuable tool after that, too! That’s because a number of insurance companies have special apps that enable you to upload all of the information they need in just a few taps. You don’t even need to wait until you get home to file a claim! And, since these apps are designed to walk you through the process, you can rest easy knowing that you didn’t accidentally leave out any information that your insurance company needs. After all, the sooner your claim is officially filed, the sooner it can be resolved!
Use an insurance company-approved body shop
Your insurance company can’t force you to use a specific body shop, but it’s a good idea to use one that’s on their preferred list. Because the insurance company already has a good relationship with the body shops on the list, there’s a much smaller chance of any arguing back and forth — meaning your car can get fixed and back on the road sooner!
Find out if there’s a one-stop shop
Assuming your car is driveable, some insurance companies have special facilities where you can take your car in for the appraisal and arrange for a rental car all in one place. As you can probably imagine, this will take a lot less time than arranging for an appraiser to come out to you.
See what your policy says
Oftentimes, car insurance claims screech to a halt because the car owner doesn’t actually know what’s in the policy! For example, your body shop may have listed original manufacturer’s parts on its estimate, and your insurance company doesn’t want to pay for them. Instead of immediately diving into an argument, read your policy. If you discover that it only covers aftermarket parts, you can skip a timely argument altogether!
Talk to your agent
Your insurance agent isn’t just a valuable resource when you need to buy a new policy. The right one can also act as a guiding hand through the claims process. Whether you need someone to explain the claims process to you in plain English, or you need someone to help you get a status update, a good agent can be worth their weight in gold — at a time when you need them the most!
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