The procedures following a car accident can be complex, but it’s essential that you take action in a timely manner in order to secure compensation for your injuries and property damage. One of the first things you should do following an accident is to contact your insurance company, regardless of who was at-fault for an accident. Here’s why: you may be able to use several coverages on your own policy following a car accident, even if you think someone else was clearly at fault. Here’s what you need to know.
California law requires certain minimums when it comes to insurance coverage, but chances are you have much more. One optional coverage that many Californians have on their policies is collision coverage. When an at-fault driver’s insurance company does not accept immediate responsibility for an accident, this coverage can be useful. An at-fault driver’s insurance company has to accept liability before it pays out a claim for damages, but you will require assistance before that happens – for example, you have auto repairs to complete. Your collision coverage can kick in and pay for these repairs, but only if you promptly report the accident to your own insurance company.
Another optional coverage you may have available is towing insurance. If your insurance company allows you to tow your vehicle, you must report the accident to them in a timely manner. This allows you to receive reimbursement for any towing expenses, as well as reimbursement for any time your car sits in a lot waiting for repairs. If you fail to report the accident to your insurance company, you will have to pay these expenses yourself.
If you sustain injuries in an accident that requires medical treatment, you may not have a way of paying for your medical bills until another insurance company accepts liability for your injuries. In the meantime, however, you may be able to secure payment for bills based on your “Med Pay” coverage. If you have this type of policy, your insurance company will cover your medical expenses while an insurance company determines fault and subsequent liability for an accident.
You won’t have to use personal funds to pay for your medical expenses while waiting for reimbursement for an insurance company. This is a great optional coverage to have, especially since medical bills can be very expensive and some health insurance plans deny coverage if bills resulted from a car accident.
Lastly, your insurance company may come to your defense and help expedite the process of determining liability in a car accident. Your insurance company does not want to pay for your medical expenses and other damages if it doesn’t have to. If another driver’s insurance company says that you’re at fault for an accident, it may provide a defense to you free of charge. Again, this depends on the specifics outlined by your insurance policy.
In general, it’s a good idea to report any car accident to your own insurance policy, even if you don’t think you were at fault for an accident. First, you must notify your insurance company to take advantage of any of these optional coverages on your insurance policy. If you don’t tell your insurance company about an accident, you may be ineligible to receive these coverages, even if you pay for them.
Secondly, there’s a chance that you might share fault for an accident, even if you believe the other driver was wholly responsible. In this case, reporting to your insurer is essential to protecting your right to coverage.
When you talk to your insurance company, on the other hand, be judicious in what you say. Give the details about the accident, including time, place and the names of the other drivers involved. Don’t bring up the issue of fault or offer more information than required by the claims adjuster. When speaking to an insurance company, do not agree to recorded statements or sign any documents unless you have approval from a personal injury attorney.