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Auto Insurance Claims: A Brief Guide

May 6, 2008
If you're needing to submit a car insurance claim, you've probably been in an accident recently, and need to get the matter dealt with and your life back in order. It's a stressful time, but the process doesn't have to be something you dread, as long as you follow some basic steps. We're going to take you through those in this article. Most people are not thinking too clearly after an accident, so it's a good idea to keep an accident check list in your wallet, purse, or glove compartment.

Of course, the first thing to do is make sure everyone is safe, and if any medical attention is needed, that this is taken care of immediately. Then, take a few minutes to breathe deeply and put things in perspective. You are alive, the professionals are on their way, and this is a manageable. Because this is a difficult time, it will help to have a list of things to do in your wallet, purse, or glove compartment.

* Get information about every car that stops at the scene of the incident. That includes make, model and license plate. Even if they weren't involved in the accident, get this information; they could be valuable witnesses.

* Each driver who is actually involved in the incident should provide their name, address, phone number, and their insurance information. Look at their insurance card and copy down all the information on it, especially the company name, policy number, and company phone number.

* Ask any witness to the event to give you their name, address, and phone number. Also, try to get a brief account from each of them. These can be very helpful later on when the insurance company assembles their account of what happened.

* Write down your own account of the accident, giving as much detail as you can, and working through the events in order, if you can. You can start with the date, time, and where the accident happened. Important details include which lane you were driving in, whether there were any unusual conditions, such as construction or heavy rain, the level of traffic, and so on. Then try to recall the events before, during, and after the accident as accurately and completely as you can.

* It is helpful to have photographs of the vehicles and the scene. You can use a cell phone camera for this, or, if you don't have one, keep a disposable camera in your car. Take pictures of anything that might be relevant; if you're not sure, go ahead and get a picture.

* Call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. They have been through the process of submitting a car insurance claim hundreds or thousands of times before. They will have a set list of questions for you to answer. Just take your time and answer as clearly, completely, and honestly as possible.

* If the police are called to the scene, they, too, will have a set procedure for getting information about the incident. Be patient and polite, and answer their questions as completely and accurately as possible, too. Make sure you receive a copy of the accident report, as this will be important as part of submitting a car insurance claim.

Once the actual incident is over, make sure you follow up on everything your insurance company is doing. The whole claim filing is now often taken care of by phone on by mobile insurance vans. Still, you need to follow up. Calling the insurance company once a week to check wouldn't be a bad idea and, obviously, return any call from them as soon as possible. Finally, check to see whether your cheap auto insurance quote will change because of the claim.

An accident can be a terrible event, but you can make the aftermath easier to handle if you just remember to stay calm, be thorough, and follow up. Do these things and soon you'll be back on the road and the claim will be just a memory.
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