When you’ve been in a car accident, life instantly gets a lot more complicated. First, you’re potentially dealing with injuries caused by the accident. You’re in pain. You probably have limited mobility and are having a hard time doing even the simplest things.
You’re also dealing with the property damage that occurred as a result of the accident. Your car is damaged and may not be drivable. It needs repairs. In some cases, it may need replacement. In the meantime, you have to scramble to find alternative transportation. It’s a real pain in the neck at a time when the last thing you need is more pain.
Finally, you’re dealing with the stress that comes with an uncertain future. Your injuries may be preventing you from working. Your damaged car isn’t helping matters. You wonder who’s going to pay for all the bills that are suddenly starting to accumulate. You worry about how you’re going to take care of yourself and your loved ones while you recover.
As if your life wasn’t complicated enough, you also have to begin dealing with your insurance company and the insurance company of the other driver involved in the accident. They want information from you about your injuries, about how the accident happened, and so much more. You may be unsure about what to say or do next, and this only makes your already stressful sense of uncertainty about the whole situation worse.
Right now, the last thing you need is more stress. So, here are three tips that you can use to effectively communicate with the insurance companies involved in your car accident. Using these tips will allow you to give the insurers the information they need to advance their investigations into your claim while, at the same time, protecting your best interests.
1. The Insurance Company is a Potential Adversary
Insurance companies exist to provide protection against loss. You pay a small amount on a regular basis to shield yourself financially from a potential big loss in the future. Insurance makes sense. That’s why the insurance industry in the United States alone generates over one trillion dollars in premiums every year.
That kind of money also means that insurance is a big business, and big business requires profit. So, while you protect yourself against loss through an insurance policy, insurance companies protect themselves against loss, in part, by actively seeking to reduce the amount of money that they pay out in damage claims.
The conversations and correspondence that you may have with an insurance adjuster or attorney for an insurer may be cordial, helpful, or even friendly. Nevertheless, it’s imperative to remember that their best interest is to attempt to reduce the amount of the settlement of your claim as much as possible.
This means that when you speak to any representative of an insurance company about your car accident you are speaking to a potential adversary. You must provide accurate information to an insurer in order to settle your claim. However, all the information that you do provide can be used against you in litigation should you and the insurer disagree on the value of a settlement.
This brings us to tip #2.
2. Stick to the Facts
It is the facts that surround your car accident that determine its overall value in settlement or judgment award. Therefore, in order to obtain a settlement amount that adequately compensates you for the damages you suffered, you have to use solid, verifiable information – not emotion. Make certain that all the information you provide to an insurer in regard to your car accident is factual in nature. Now, is not the time to substitute conjecture and possibility in place of cold, hard truth. Stick to the facts, and nothing but the facts, as you know them.
If you can, obtain all the official documents that pertain to your accident and provide these to the insurer. Things like police reports, witness statements and photographs of the accident scene are objective and factually-based. They provide the insurer with an accurate snapshot of what happened just prior to the accident and subsequently.
Your medical records and medical bills are also fact-based documents. They provide accurate details of the injuries you suffered as a result of the accident. They give the insurer an idea of the pain and inconvenience your injuries caused you. They also provide an exact tally of a portion of your out-of-pocket expenses.
If the insurer asks you to give a statement about the accident, make sure that you relate information that is based on the facts of your claim. If you don’t know something, then say so. It is perfectly acceptable to admit that you don’t know the answer to a question or don’t have a clear memory of certain events.
Remember, it is better to say “I don’t know” than it is to estimate or make assumptions about things you are not really sure of. When you make a statement based on assumption and guesses, you turn that non-factual information into your version of the truth. Remember, everything that you say to the insurer will be used to help determine the value of your settlement.
3. Know When to Get Help
Insurance adjusters and insurance attorneys working for insurance companies are professionals. They deal with dozens of claims just like yours every single day. They know the ropes and they know that you are not as skilled in claim valuation and settlement as they are. They may try and use that difference in skill and knowledge to their advantage by pressuring you to accept a settlement that isn’t adequate to compensate you for your damages.
An experienced car accident attorney knows how to deal with an insurance company. They have the skills necessary to present the facts of your case in the best possible light so that you receive the settlement amount that you deserve. They also know the law. If the insurance company refuses to tender an adequate settlement, they can bring a lawsuit on your behalf and obtain the compensation that you need in a court of law.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming you know enough to head up battle with an insurance company on your own. Enlist the help of a qualified California personal injury attorney.