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If you’ve been the victim of a recent car or motorcycle accident, the short answer is yes, you should always call your insurance company; however, you should know a few key things before making that phone call.
Following your accident, you’re likely facing more obstacles and challenges than you expected. If you were hurt in the accident, those obstacles increase tenfold. I’ve written many blogs about the types of insurance you should have so that you can afford to cover your damages and injuries (even though you’re the victim), but in the days following a car accident, what are the questions you should ask your insurance company? I’ll outline several of those below. I will also outline the things you should expect from your own insurance company. Finally, because it bears repeating, I will highlight some of the things to beware of from your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company.
Remember: insurance companies are never your friend. Even your own insurance company will do everything in its power to minimize their exposure and risk. They want to pay you as little as possible and they may try some pretty underhanded tactics to limit what they pay.
Let’s start with the questions you should ask your own insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company in the hours, days and weeks after an accident. This article assumes you were the victim of someone else’s negligent driving.
Rule #1: If you were hurt in the accident, do not speak to the other driver’s insurance company without first consulting with a personal injury attorney. (This consultation should be free.) By Colorado law, insurance companies cannot contact you for a recorded statement within 15 days of being in care or treatment after an accident. For more about the cautions you should take, read the next section of this article.
Now, as soon as you can after an accident in which you were the victim, call your insurance company and report the incident. At that time, you should ask for the following information:
So, those are some of the things that you should ask your insurance company after an accident. The problem is the questions that they might ask you! Yes, your own insurance company will immediately do all they can to limit the amount that they must pay you. Here’s my advice: give them as little information as possible in your initial call with them. Then, if you were injured in the accident, call a personal injury attorney for advice. As I said above, that initial consultation should be free and you will probably learn a lot about how to protect your rights.
For example, if you call your insurance company to report the accident – which you must do – the agent on the line will probably behave compassionately and ask questions like, “Where were you? How far away were you when you saw the other car?”
Remember: that agent is not compassionate, nor is she asking these questions just to be friendly. She has an agenda and she is likely recording your call or writing down every word you say.
Here is a scenario we often hear about from people who were not represented by a personal injury attorney.
Let’s say that a motorcycle rider was riding down the road when a car pulled out in front of him, doing a left-hand turn. The rider hits the car, totaling his bike and he sustained injuries. During the initial call to report the accident, the insurance company agent asks him, “How far away were you when you first saw the car?” The rider says, “I’m not sure.” The agent keeps pushing, “I understand. These things can happen so quickly. Do you think you were two blocks away?” The rider says, “No… not that far.” The agent says, “Three blocks? Three or four car lengths?”
The agent keeps pushing and finally the motorcycle rider says, “Yes, maybe it was half a block.” He just wants to give an answer. Later, the insurance company’s lawyer will use the notes from this call to say that the motorcyclist had enough time to react, so he was 20% at fault. The might only offer 80% of the rider’s claim, or less.
I always advise my clients to be truthful, but there are ways to share the truth that won’t limit the coverage you can receive.
If you have any questions about this article, or if you think an insurance company is taking advantage of you, please contact me today.
What Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know — Even your own insurance is NOT on your side after an accident.
Healthcare Billing Fraud in Denver — Hospitals are using illegal billing practices to get more money that should be going to victims in accidents.
‘Tis the season to set unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions. So, in the interest of setting you up for success in the new year, I have a suggestion for a resolution that’s easy to keep, won’t take a lot of time, and might end up protecting you from financial ruin one day in the future: Review your auto insurance! Make sure that you have the following coverage:
If you’re confused about which insurance you have, give me a call. I’d be happy to check your paperwork and let you know if you have what you need. 303-388-5304.