An automobile accident can have many negative repercussions on an individual’s day-to-day life. Property damages are sustained, injuries can occur, wages can be lost because of time away from work. Fortunately, if you’ve been in an automobile accident because of another driver’s fault, a claim can be started with their insurance carrier for the damages that result.
The following steps should be taken in order to ensure the claims process runs as smoothly as possible.
Obtain all insurance information. Under Louisiana law, every driver is required to carry proof of insurance in their automobile. The insurance information card should provide the name of the insurance carrier, the contact information for the company, and the policy number of the insured.
After an accident, it is important to obtain this information, preferably by photographing the insurance information card. It is also wise to get the name and contact information of the at-fault driver, their license plate number, and vehicle identification number. Taking photographs of the accident will also help illustrate property damages and establish fault once the claims process has begun.
Initiate a claim. A claim is started by contacting the at-fault driver’s insurance company and providing them with the information collected above. The insurance information card will typically have all telephone numbers or website addresses needed to start the claim.
It is recommended you obtain legal counsel before contacting the insurance company. However, in the event you do contact them without counsel, refrain from providing a recorded statement about the accident.
Inquire about policy limits. Insurance companies are only liable to compensate you up to the limits provided in the at-fault driver’s policy. For example, an insurance policy may only provide coverage for the first $15,000.00 of medical treatment. Although insurance companies do not always provide this information, having it will allow you to know if enough coverage exists to fully compensate you for your damages.
Provide information on damages. If you are making a claim for both property damages and personal injuries, it is likely you will have two separate claim numbers and two separate insurance adjusters. In order to assess your claims, an insurance adjuster will want to know the following information:
- Time, date, and location of the accident;
- an incident report number if a report was generated by a police officer;
- your auto insurance information;
- your driver’s license information;
- the name and address of healthcare providers who treated you; and,
- your vehicle information.
Again, it is advisable that all communications with the at-fault driver’s insurance company go through an experienced attorney. However, if you do speak directly with the insurance adjuster, always be honest and always be polite. Those simple things will make the claims process much easier.