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Auto Insurance after an Accident

You shake your head, thinking it's a dream. Nope. You're still sitting in the driver's seat, and there' still smoke pouring out of your hood. You check yourself over to make sure you're okay. Yep. Now what do you do? After a car accident happens, how do auto insurance consumers properly respond? This article discusses some of the things to keep in mind in the aftermath of an accident.

Keep Information in Glove Compartment

You should always keep auto insurance information in the glove compartment if your vehicle. This is the best place for it, not above the window visor, where it can fly off if the windows are open. You should also have a disposable camera in there ready to go, so you can take pictures of the accident scene. Stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. Make sure you get the name of the responding officer or officers and get down their version of what happened for your information later on. Don't sit there under the assumption that a police report will somehow clear your name or implicate the other driver. Sometimes in situations where there were no injuries, police reports are virtually nonexistent, not getting into blame or citing anyone for any wrongdoing.

Exchange Information with Other Driver

While you are awaiting the police, talk to the other driver as soon as you can safely do so. Get insurance and contact information, including name, address, and drivers license number, and insurance company and policy number. Take a look at your own policy when you get a chance. You'll want to write questions down for your insurer. If it looks like it's going to be some time before the police arrive, go ahead and call your insurance company. Tell them about the accident and get the claim ball rolling.

Report Accident to Your Insurer

At this point, at the very latest after the police are done talking to you, tell your insurance company what happened. You might be hesitant to do so, because of fear of higher rates or that sort of thing. But you need to be the one to do it. You can count on the other driver's insurance company coming after yours no matter who was really to blame for the crash. So get this part over with and get your insurer working on your behalf. If you were not to blame, your rates should not legally be affected by the accident anyway.

Listed among the conditions of your policy will be directions for exactly what you are supposed to do in the event of an accident. As soon as you can, get that policy out and read this part of it. Find out what is expected of you as a policy holder so you can make sure to uphold your responsibilities. If you read it and do not understand some or all of it, don't hesitate to give your insurer another call. This is why you pay them all of that premium money. Also, look over the declarations page of your policy and look at the exclusions. Make sure what happened in your accident is not listed among them. You're just looking for holes in your coverage now so that you will not be surprised later on down the line as you get deeper into the claims process. You may also wish to call your state insurance department if you have other questions that may be better directed toward them.

Claims Settlement and Payout

At this point, the insurance companies are hashing out some sort of agreement on who pays what. Most of the time, this process does not take too long to complete. When you get your money, it will be a reflection of the insurer's assessment of the car's value or its damage. You may not get enough money to pay it off if you owed and the car was totaled in the accident. Don't be surprised by this. In fact, before getting into an accident, people who owe on their cars should look into gap insurance and price it out to decide if it is worth paying for to them.

If the car wasn't totaled, you'll take the money you received and get it repaired. Make sure you are in control of the repair process. Keep an eye on the repair shop, including the parts they use. Insist on OEM parts and not aftermarket, as long as your policy does not explicitly state that generic parts can be used.

Make sure your voice is the one heard loud and clear by the collision shop manager, and not the voice of the insurance adjuster. This is your vehicle, so it should be fixed to your satisfaction. Don't accept less than a top notch job.


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