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Insurance Claims Tips

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  • One thing you should do before you call your agent, is to make sure that you review your insurance policy.  Be certain that you understand your policy, especially the “Coverage” and “Exclusion” sections.


  • As soon as possible after an accident, call your agent.  Call as soon as you get home and even before you see a doctor. 


  • Take detailed notes of all conversations with your insurance company.  Be sure to get the names, phone numbers, and job titles of everyone you speak with.  Get his or her supervisor’s name as well.


  • Keep receipts of any expenses, such as meals or travel expenses, that you incur in connection with the time spent pursuing your insurance claim from the time of the accident until you reach a final settlement with your insurance company.


  • Don’t allow any written or recorded statements with your insurance company until you are certain that you understand your insurance policy.  The insurance company cannot require you to allow your telephone conversations to be recorded.  If you have any questions about recorded statements, contact a lawyer.


  • Is your accident covered by other insurance policies as well?  Many times, more than one policy may cover your claim.  Look over your homeowner’s policy, umbrella coverage policies, and any coverage you may have under your credit cards.


  • If it’s possible, take pictures.  Don’t go to extremes, but definitely take pictures of your vehicle damage and injuries.


  • It’s important to be open and honest with your insurance agent.  Even if something is personally embarrassing, it’s better that your insurer knows about it.  Withholding facts or information from your insurer may cause them to deny coverage of your claim or invalidate your insurance policy.


  • There is a difference between replacement coverage and actual cash value.  If you have replacement coverage, it may cover the cost of a new vehicle.  If you take the actual cash value of your destroyed vehicle instead, you may take a loss.  However, if you have replacement coverage, you may be required to actually replace the destroyed vehicle before you can get reimbursed for the cost of replacement.


  • Be careful when accepting the estimate or appraisal of your losses that is given to you by your insurer.  Insurance companies will often try to get you to accept the estimate given by their estimator or contractor.  These estimates may be slightly lower than actual repair or replacement costs.  Do not sign any releases or waivers of any kind without advice from a lawyer.  You may feel pressured to accept an early, insufficient settlement from your insurance company if your financial situation is dire after your accident.  However, there may be other damages you could include in your claim that you didn’t think about at first.  Consulting with a lawyer will help you make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything.  Make sure that you read all the fine print on any payment from an insurance company.


  • Be aware of the time limits set by your insurance policy.  Most policies require a signed proof of loss within a set time period, unless you get a written waiver of this requirement from your insurance company.  If your claim has not been adjusted to your satisfaction, most policies only allow you one year to bring a lawsuit.  Contact a lawyer immediately if your claim has not been adjusted fairly by eleven months after your accident.  If you do not, you might lose your right to sue.


  • Don’t accept any check that says “final payment” unless you are ready to accept a final payment.


  • Remember that you have a legal contract with your insurance company.  Your insurer has a legal obligation to give you the coverage that was promised to you.  Insist on enforcement of that obligation. 

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