When you’ve just been struck by a car that came out of nowhere, or your home has been burglarized, the last thing you’re thinking about is step by step instructions on how to properly handle the situation. And while almost nothing compares to the whirlwind of panic that consumes us when we, our homes or our cars have been violated in some way, it is made ten times worse if the incident goes unaddressed, or addressed in the wrong fashion. You want justice, you want compensation, you want settlement; filing a claim the right way can offer balance to life’s most unfair situations.
When filing an insurance claim, the best, general tips to remember are details and immediacy. You don’t want to leave anything out, and you don’t want to leave any time between what really happened and what could have arguably happened. Here are a few tips to follow through the filing process:
Make a police report:
This is a good idea to ensure accuracy and honesty. Many people don’t like getting the police involved, but having the facts recorded by a law enforcement officers, means that they will be able to enforce the law if either party involved decides to “change their story” a couple days later.
Take lots of pictures:
The more the better. Get different angles, zoom in, zoom out; this is your evidence. You want to have plenty of it.
Don’t admit fault: Never, unless there’s obvious fault, (you were texting, ran a red light, etc.) admit that you were in the wrong. It’s easy, especially for those who rarely get into accidents, to be influenced by a screaming finger pointer. Don’t assume anything after an accident – that’s not your job, and you won’t do it correctly. Leave it up to the adjusters.
Right away, in fact. You don’t want to forge ahead without the aid of a trusted professional. If you call within 24 hours, they WILL record the incident, even if they pay nothing. If you switch insurance companies, it will be considered a claim and there will most likely be a surcharged involved.
Know your deductibles: Know them. Study them. Live them. Your agent will always be there to help you through, but you will feel safer knowing what you are talking about when an accidents strike.
Collisions: When your vehicle collides with an object, car or rolls over. The normal deductible for this is $500.
Comprehensive: If you are affected by a fire, natural disaster, fallen objects, vandalism, theft, or a deer. The normal deductible for these is $100.
It pays (literally) to remember:
replacing a windshield is around $300; if you have a $500 deductible, your premium may be lower, but now you’re responsible for that repair out of pocket. Choosing your options can sometimes be tricky based on a premium price that’s too good to be true. A better way to look at it is like a general guideline; the higher your premium, the more covered you are. The less you put into your premium, the less covered you are. Most everyone ops for lower premiums, but they regret it once they’re in an actual accident, and have to fork over their own money.
Take the Allstate policy structure for example:
- Allstate Platinum Protection offers unlimited accident forgiveness.
- Allstate Gold Protection (slightly lower premium) forgives one accident.
- Allstate Standard Protection forgives one accident after you’ve been with them for 3 years.
- Allstate Value Plan offers no accident forgiveness.
Like rungs in a ladder, the higher you climb, the bigger the team below, waiting to catch you.
Make a list:
Of all your possessions before potential theft. Once the police arrive, you’re going to be drilled with a million questions, and your mind will be swimming all over the place. Trying to recall what was where, what is missing and what remains is just going to intensify the panic and devastation you already feel. Make a digital inventory, two copies, so you have something to refer to.
With most insurance companies, you can save up to 15% on a home security system, and it is well worth it. You know those things you always say could never happen to you? Well, ninety percent of the time, they end up happening. And you want to be prepared on all fronts. That includes, as devastating as it is to think about, potential injuries that occur on your property due to a break in. For this, it’s a good idea to consider renters/homeowners liability protection. You will only be liable in a circumstance such as this if you’ve used beyond, what is termed, “reasonable force.” This means, if you or your family or your home is being attacked, you are justified in using “equal force” to protect or defend, and will be NOT be held liable for it.
We know; it’s a lot to take in. Filing a claim is never simple, but it can be made simple when you’re working with the right people. And, more than simple, it can be made worthy. Going through a complicated claims process, only to find out your insurance company missed a crucial component, or didn’t dig deep enough, or go far enough, is almost as upsetting as the original situation you called them for. Don’t get caught up in complication; wade through messy waters with a team you can trust enough to hold your hand, keep your afloat and guide you to safety. Contact one of our Insurance Architects now.