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The Insurance Process After an Auto Accident

Published Date: 
March 19, 2024
An insurance agent giving papers to sign to a women.

Understanding insurance claims after an accident can be overwhelming. The following tips for navigating the insurance process after an accident can help you avoid problems.

Unraveling the Red Tape: Navigating the Insurance Maze After an Auto Accident

Auto accidents are one of the most common occurrences that lead to injuries. There are millions of auto accidents every year. Many of these are serious, and some are fatal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 43,000 people died in auto accidents in 2022. No matter the severity of an accident, those involved directly or indirectly will have to work with insurance companies in the days, weeks, and months after the event. The process can be extremely complex – and frustrating – during a time when the main priority should be on healing and overall well-being.

What can you do to make the process of navigating the insurance claims process after an auto accident easier?

Immediate Steps After an Accident

There are several things you should do immediately following an accident. This occurs at the scene and addresses the most immediate concerns regarding the health of everyone involved. For example:

Ensure Safety

First and foremost, you should make sure you and everyone else involved is safe. Seek medical attention if necessary. Even if you suspect you’re fine, getting checked out by a doctor is still a good idea.

Exchange Contact Information

Once everyone is safe and out of harm’s way, exchange contact and insurance information with everyone involved. Not the names of the people involved, their license plate numbers, their driver’s license numbers, and their insurance companies and contact information. 

Contact the Police

Next, consider contacting the police. Most auto accidents are serious enough to warrant a police report. At the very least, gather contact information from witnesses and take pictures of the scene. Remember, just because everyone is compliant and polite at the scene doesn’t mean they won’t change their story later. Be polite at the scene, but make sure you protect yourself and get as much information as possible to support your claims.

Contact Your Vehicle Insurance Provider

Contact your insurance company to initiate the accident claim process as soon as possible. You’ll need to answer their questions and provide information about the event. The sooner you do that after the crash, the easier it will be to remember the details accurately and completely. 

Understanding Your Coverage and Policy

There are several things you should do regarding your vehicle insurance coverage. For example:

Familiarize Yourself with Your Policy Details

It’s a good idea to review your insurance policy after an accident, but it can also help to understand your coverage before any accidents occur, just in case. Make sure you know your coverage limits and exclusions.

Differentiate Between Coverages

There are different types of coverage, including:

  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Other coverage

Make sure you know what you have, how much, and how it affects the accident.

Know Your Deductible

Knowing your deductible means you won’t be hit with any financial surprises after an accident. Chances are you’re responsible for paying for a portion of the damages.

Documenting and Organizing Evidence

You can do several things to make the days, weeks, and months after an accident easier. Staying organized is one of the most important. You can do this by:

Collecting Documentation

Keep copies of all paperwork, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Repair Estimates
  • Witness statements (if you can get ahold of them)
  • Police reports
  • Other relevant documentation

Negotiating Your Claim

Negotiating your claim is one of the most important aspects of managing the aftermath of a car accident. This is why so many people hire attorneys. Attorneys are experienced at negotiating claims and know what the average person stands to receive based on their injuries and other damages. If you choose to negotiate your claim on your own, make sure you:

Understand Your Negotiation Rights

Insurance companies will try to convince you they have your best interest in mind. They might tell you that it’s not worth your time negotiating or even that you don’t have the right to do so. This isn’t true. Be prepared to advocate for yourself and do so with confidence. 

Review Repair Estimates

It’s also a good idea to get a second opinion if you think the first repair estimate you received or that the repair company the insurance company referred you to isn’t giving you an accurate estimate.

Negotiate with Adjusters

Your goal after an accident is to get a fair settlement based on the facts and evidence. Accident victims rarely get millions and millions of dollars. But what they can expect is that they’ll receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and repair costs.

When to Seek Professional Help

In some cases, you’ll want to reach out to a professional. The aftermath of a car accident can be confusing, complex, and exhausting. What kind of help is available to accident victims? 

Legal Counsel

Consider hiring legal counsel if your car accident claim is complex, disputed, or involves significant damages. It’s also a good idea to hire a personal injury attorney if you’re injured and need to focus on your recovery. Your attorney can handle the practical issues while you heal. 

Utilize Consumer Protection Resources

Many consumer protection resources are available for people involved in car accidents, even if you don’t need to hire an attorney. You can also seek guidance from independent insurance professionals if you aren’t sure those handling your case are treating you fairly.

Additional Tips and Resources

In addition to the tips listed above, also make sure you:

  • Avoid pitfalls like providing unnecessary information or accepting an initial offer without proper evaluation. The insurance company will want to rush you along and settle as quickly as possible to save money.
  • Maintain clear and consistent communication with your insurance company. Again, if you’re injured and not up for a lot of legwork, consider hiring a personal injury lawyer.
  • Know your state’s specific laws and regulations regarding auto insurance claims, and get legal advice when you need it. This is another way a personal injury attorney can help you.

Some people are reluctant to hire an attorney or reach out for professional help after an accident. Remember, the most important thing is your physical and emotional well-being. Accidents and the injuries they cause are stressful. The days and weeks after an accident are a great time to invest in self-care and do what you can to keep your stress and anxiety under control.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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