How Car Insurance Companies Handle Accident Claims: What You Need To Know

Being in a car accident--even a minor one--can be a traumatizing experience. Fortunately, as long as you and the other drivers involved have auto insurance, you should be taken care of in terms of having any medical bills or other damages paid for (that is, as long as you have a personal injury lawyer on your side). Still, the claims process isn't always so straight forward, which is why it's a good idea to get a solid understanding of what to expect from the auto insurance company each step of the way.

Right After the Accident

Immediately following your car accident (and after you've received any emergency medical treatment), it's important that you contact your insurance company right away to officially report the accident. Failure to report right away could lead to your insurance company finding out by the other involved party, which doesn't bode well for you or your insurance rates. If possible, get pictures of the accident scene and if police have responded, have a report filed and get the names and badge numbers of any officers on the scene in case you need them later on.

Filing Your Official Claim

Shortly after your accident, you'll likely receive a phone call from your insurance company, at which point you'll be asked to provide more details about your accident. You'll also be assigned a claims adjuster at this time; this person will be your main point of contact from this point forward and will handle the investigation side of the accident, which involves speaking with witnesses, working with the other party's insurance company, and so on. Once the investigation is done, you should receive an offer for a claims settlement.

Resolving Any Disputes

In the event that you're unhappy with your settlement offer, you have the right to reject it and bring the matter to court. If you do so, it's recommended that you hire a personal injury attorney to assist you through the process, as most insurance companies will have their own dedicated teams of lawyers themselves. From there, you may need to go through an arbitration process or have your lawyer work to negotiate with the insurance companies involved, depending on the unique circumstances of your situation. The legal process of taking a personal injury case, such as a car accident claim, to court can be quite long, so be sure you're prepared to wait awhile for a settlement.