After an automobile accident you need to make sure that you do everything possible to deal with the accident’s aftermath quickly and efficiently. Notify Your Insurance Company
First, you need to notify your insurance company of the accident. Usually you can call your agent to do this, and he or she will help guide you through the process of filing a claim. Your insurance company is accountable for the correct, appropriate, and reasonable investigation of your claim. If you weren’t at fault in the accident, you may call the other driver’s insurance company. If your claim is denied, the insurance company must provide you with a reasonable explanation of the denial.
Note: Florida is a comparative negligence state, meaning if both you and the other driver were at fault the insurance companies determine the amount of fault and split the claim based on the amount of fault accorded each driver.
Rent a Car
Rent the best car your coverage permits if you have such coverage. Make sure you know if you are responsible for collision damage to the rental car.
Check with your State’s Department of Insurance for Insured Drivers’ Rights
Find the website of your state’s department of insurance to find out about the fair resolution of insurance claims and what your rights are in this situation. Get a Copy of Your Complete Claim File
It is extremely important that you get a complete copy of your insurance claim file, including Post-it-notes, etc. since people can and do make mistakes. You don’t want to be surcharged for anything for which you aren’t responsible. If you don’t get a copy of your claim file, by the time you notice a surcharge weeks or months after your accident, the insurance company often won’t have a copy of your claim file. If your insurer doesn’t want to give you a copy of your claim file, you may file a complaint with your state’s department of insurance and you may hire an attorney. Your attorney may find it necessary subpoena the insurance company to give you a copy of the claim file.
Determine What Your Car was Worth Prior to Your Accident
You don’t need to take the insurance company’s word for your car’s actual cash value (ACV) before the accident. Take part in the valuation process and use consumer websites such as Edmunds.com to figure out what your car was worth. Especially if you have custom detailing, trim, or paint, your car may have been worth more than the blue book value. If your car was totaled (a total loss), the higher the ACV, the higher the payment you receive will be. Insurers are required to be fair by law, so don’t be afraid to let them know if their estimate is too low.
Agree Upon a Fair Value of any Damages
Whether your insurance company sends an adjuster or tells you to get an estimate, you should be there when the person inspects the damage so you can show them any damages they may not have noticed. That way you can agree on a fair value of the damages.
You automobile might need repairing, so don’t give up your right to choose where to send your car as well. Be wary of going to a direct repair shop (DRP) which has an agreement with your insurance company to give the insurer a discount on repairs in exchange for the insurer’s referral of business. Such a shop may not always act in your best interest because of its relationship with your insurer. Compare you insurer’s recommendations with those from sources you trust.
You need to seek appropriate treatment for any injuries you sustained in your accident. Your insurance company can’t tell you where to seek treatment unless you signed up for a preferred provider discount with your insurer.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Claims
In Florida, you are required to carry PIP coverage to help injury accident victims with lost wages while they unable to work and to cover any necessary medical treatment. Your insurer should provide you with a notice of your rights when you file such a claim, such as your PIP benefits, exclusions, limitations, and your payment deadline. Within 30 days of receiving appropriate written notification of the PIP loss amount, your insurer is required to pay you or the medical service provider.
Keep in Mind Three Critical Tips
1) Always give only the facts regarding your accident to your insurance company or other insurers.
2) Identify exactly which providers you are using for your automobile repairs and medical treatment
3) Get as many documents as possible to steer clear of surcharges or troubles obtaining auto insurance coverage in the future.
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