None of us want to be involved in a claim. We all hope to be lucky enough to avoid a car accident, house fire, an employee lawsuit, a slip and fall at our office, etc. However, the reality is that many of us will find ourselves in these types of situations, and it’s important that we know what to do in the event of a loss.
Call your agent.
Your independent agent is your greatest resource come claim time. Insurance is complicated in nature, and your trusted agent can help you navigate any potential pitfalls.
Be familiar with your policy
Few of us enjoy reading our policies. However, being familiar with your policies will help you better understand what your policy does and does not cover, which will help the process go more smoothly.
Promptly notify your insurance company of a loss
It is important to promptly notify your insurance company of a loss, or any event that may result in a claim. There are two reasons for this. First, it is one of the conditions in your policy. Second, it is much easier to adjust a claim right away, while the damaged property can be inspected, and the memories of witnesses are still fresh, and the insurance company can help you avoid lawsuits.
Keep good documentation
Keep a paper trail of all conversations with adjusters and 3rd parties. Make sure that you keep receipts for rental cars or other claim related expenses. Take photos of the accident or damaged property. Good documentation can really help expedite the claims process.
Cooperate with your insurance company
Your insurance company needs your cooperation to settle a claim efficiently. Help your insurance company by mitigating further damage and provided any pertinent documentation, etc.
Don’t remove damaged property
It may be tempting to throw away property damaged by a fire or other peril. Resist the urge! Your insurance company needs to see the damaged property in order to adjust the claim properly. Keep in mind that you are also responsible for protecting the damaged property from further damage.
Call the police
Whether it’s an auto claim, vandalism, or theft, it is always a good idea to call the police. Having a report from the authorities comes in handy when there is a dispute about who is at fault.
Don’t admit fault
It is never a good idea to admit fault. If you are sued by another party, admitting fault could greatly impair your insurance companies’ ability to defend you and could result in a breach of the insurance contract. And, while some cases are “cut and dry” sometimes the cause of the accident may be different than you think.
Don’t pay claims out of pocket
You may be tempted to pay minor claims out of pocket. However, it is important to note that if you handle a claim yourself, that is grounds for the company to deny the claim later if it turns out to be a more significant claim than you originally thought. Think twice before you pay for someone’s bumper or out of pocket medical expenses.
It’s okay to question the settlement
Most of the time, insurance companies will offer a fair settlement. However, insurance companies are run by people, and people sometimes make mistakes. Do your research beforehand. Find out what your vehicle in similar condition and similar mileage is going for, and feel free to negotiate the settlement if you suspect that it is unfair. Contact your agent for help if you still feel unsure about the settlement offer.
Never be afraid to ask your independent agent for help.
Your agent is there to make sure that this process goes smoothly for you. If you have questions or concerns, your independent agent should be your first call.