Attorney's Guide to Talking To Insurance Agents After an Accident
One necessary evil of getting things resolved is talking to your insurance company about what happened. If you’ve never done this before, there’s a good chance that you will feel a little out of your depth and nervous about it.
You may have to recount your version of the accident again and again to multiple people and you may get the feeling, at some point, that one of these people is trying to incriminate you.
Though the individual agent isn’t your enemy, it’s important to keep in mind that fault plays a big role in determining whose insurance has to pay for what. So, it’s very important that you keep your wits about you and know how to conduct yourself in these conversations.
While even a fender bender can be a shock to the system, it’s critical that you stay focused each step of the way so that you document everything. At the scene, get as much info as you can from the other driver and any witnesses, as your insurance agent will surely need this later. Hopefully, you have a copy of the police report. If not, you can always call the local precinct and get one. If you had to seek any medical attention after the accident, keep your discharge papers on hand. The same goes for any mechanic or towing receipts.
Sometimes, it can be helpful to write down an account of the incident in your own words. That way, when you hop on the phone and enter the insurance rabbit hole, you’ll have your story straight and make sure that you don’t leave anything out or change the way you present it on different occasions.
While small details — the damage from a fender bender, for example — may not seem worth mentioning, they absolutely are. Be specific. Every time you talk to someone about your claim, make a note of the date, the mode of communication, and the name of whoever you spoke with. If there are problems down the line, this will help you (and an agent) retrace your steps and your claim.
Even under the best of circumstances, the process of dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is stressful. But in order to get the best possible outcome, you need to stay calm, cool, and collected each and every time you speak to an insurance representative.
Even if it’s a clean, simple case, you’re bound to get a little wound up. So, if you feel yourself losing your cool while you’re talking to someone from an insurance company, call back another time after you’ve had a chance to calm down. Becoming emotional may cause you to accidentally say things that could come back to haunt you later.
Keep in mind that insurance policies are tricky and tailored to protect the company, not the individual. And remember that your insurance agent is just the first line of defense (and they’re human, too!). If you have complaints, you need to keep asking to talk to higher ups.
Speaking of asking to talk to higher ups, you have to be persistent. Insurance companies are labyrinths of bureaucracy and they can be hard to navigate. If you don’t fully understand something, say so and have them explain it to you again. Follow up with emails and phone calls. If they want you to submit forms, do it right away. And then call just to check that it was received.
If you aren’t getting the service you need, keep asking for more help. They’re supposed to be performing a service and you’re the customer, right? You wouldn’t take bad or confusing service from your local grocery store, so why would you take it from an insurance company? Don’t be intimidated.
Insurance companies do have a bad reputation for being a little tricky. Maybe that’s fair, and maybe it’s not. There’s a lot of technical jargon, protocols, and deadlines when dealing with an insurance agent after an accident. Even the most well-informed customer can get overwhelmed. If you’ve got a particularly complex or serious case, it may be worth seeking the services of an accident attorney who can take over the process for you and ensure a successful outcome.
No matter what, remember that it’s the insurance agent’s job to help you. So, be nice, be prepared, and take it easy.
About the Author: As the founder of Zaid Law, a personal injury law firm in Houston, John Zaid is a passionate expert on all things related to safety. His experience with the victims of car accidents has made him determined to help his clients and readers become safer drivers. To learn more about John, visit www.Zaidlaw.com.