After a car accident, you may know that you need to report the accident to the insurance company-but which one? How do you know when you need to contact the insurance company and when you can wait? Do you have a legal obligation to report the accident to your insurance company?
In most cases, you will pursue compensation through the liable driver’s insurance company. However, talk to a car accident lawyer about who you need to report your car accident to, including whether you need to report the accident to your own insurance company. In most cases, your lawyer can take care of reporting the accident to your insurance company for you.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer to Report Your Accident?
You may have dealt with your insurance company on your own in the past, especially over issues like a minor fender bender. However, whether you need to deal with your own insurance company or the liable driver’s insurance company over your car accident, working with a lawyer increases the odds that you will recover as much compensation as possible.
#1. A lawyer can help you better understand which car insurance policy applies.
Sometimes, you may need to talk to a lawyer to determine which insurance policy you need to use to pursue compensation for your injuries.
What happens if the driver that caused your accident does not have insurance? Does your insurance policy cover the damage to your vehicle if you need to have repairs made fast and don’t have time to wait for the liable driver’s insurance company?
A lawyer can help look over the details of both policies and ensure that you fully understand your rights, including which policy you need to use.
#2. A lawyer can explain the compensation you deserve for car accident injuries.
Sometimes, you may end up with serious injuries from a car accident. In many cases, that means equally serious medical bills to go along with them. Unfortunately, the insurance company may not care about the full extent of the financial losses you have suffered and how they have the potential to impact your life long after the accident.
Sometimes, the insurance company will try to pressure you into accepting a low settlement offer instead of the full compensation you deserve. In many cases, the insurance agent may even make it sound like you have received the maximum offer the insurance company can pay for your injuries.
On the other hand, a lawyer often has a much better understanding of exactly how much compensation you should expect for your injuries and, in many cases, how you should go about seeking compensation for them. By working with a lawyer, you can increase the odds of avoiding low settlement offers.
A lawyer can also help review all the terms written into the insurance policy and understand whether you need to consult your policy or the other driver’s policy. Finally, an experienced lawyer can help you understand all the compensation you may deserve.
For example, some policies may offer rental car coverage, or compensate you for time spent without your vehicle. In some cases, you may have the right to use your personal insurance coverage for more than you expect after your accident. A lawyer can fully review the policy details to obtain the benefits you paid for.
#3. Talking to a lawyer may encourage the insurance company to take you more seriously.
Sometimes, the insurance company will not take your needs seriously when you call in to report an accident. Your claim may drag out, even though you need to get your vehicle repaired sooner, rather than later, and may have significant financial losses as you deal with your auto accident.
On the other hand, when a lawyer calls, the insurance company may take your claim much more seriously.
Going through a lawyer for your claim can mean a better settlement offer and a more efficient timeline for resolving your claim. In addition, the insurance company may respond more quickly, in general, to an attorney’s questions or queries.
#4. A lawyer can help you navigate snarls, pitfalls, and traps when talking with the insurance company.
Talking to an insurance adjuster or claim representative may seem relatively simple. However, many insurance companies utilize tactics designed to encourage accident victims to decrease the compensation they ultimately accept for their injuries.
You may find yourself dealing with an insurance company that uses those tactics before you realize that your claim will turn into a fight. A lawyer, on the other hand, can help navigate those potential snarls.
A lawyer can prevent you from inadvertently accepting full or partial liability for the accident.
When dealing with the other driver’s insurance company, you do not want to make any statement that the insurance company could twist into accepting partial liability for the accident. Even slips of the tongue like noticing the sun in your eyes or poor visibility in a particular intersection could cause you partial liability for the accident. If you do accept partial liability, it could limit the compensation you can recover.
When dealing with your own insurance company over an accident claim, if you accept partial liability for the accident, it can cause your insurance costs to increase. Generally, if you did not cause an accident, your insurance rates will not increase. However, if you accept even partial liability, it could lead to higher insurance costs for some time after the accident.
A lawyer can help minimize the injuries you faced and the damages associated with those injuries.
Small talk can prove more challenging to navigate than expected when dealing with an insurance company. Suppose, for example, that the insurance agent asks you about your plans for the weekend. It might sound like small talk while waiting for a computer system to respond. In reality, however, your weekend plans could tell the adjuster a great deal about your injuries and the progression of your recovery.
If you suffered a herniated disc that causes ongoing back pain, you could have to pick and choose your activities carefully. You might have made careful plans that factor in the challenges related to your injuries. However, the insurance agent may simply note your ability to engage in activities you claim you cannot enjoy due to your injuries.
You might also find that the insurance agent’s inquiries about your health serve a deeper purpose than you think. For example, the insurance agent might ask about your recovery or how you feel. Brushing it off with, “I’m fine,” or chatting about your recovery, could make it more difficult to recover the compensation you initially expected for your injury, since the insurance agent may take it as evidence that you did not suffer the same complex injuries you claimed.
Working with a lawyer, on the other hand, can make it easier to avoid those conversational pitfalls.
When Do You Need to Report an Accident to Your Insurance Company?
Under many circumstances, you may need to report an accident to your insurance company directly, even if you did not cause the accident.
You need to use your own insurance coverage to cover part or all of the damage from the accident.
You will always need to notify your insurance company if you need to use your own insurance coverage to cover the damages associated with the accident. Reporting the accident to your insurance company quickly can make it easier to streamline your claim and get the funds you need in your hands faster.
You can add MedPay coverage to your car insurance policy in California. While not mandatory, this type of policy does offer vital protection against many of the damages you may experience. MedPay coverage helps cover medical expenses and funeral and burial expenses associated with a car accident. Your coverage may vary based on the policy you chose, your deductible, and what the policy specifically covers.
While you can use your MedPay coverage regardless of who caused the accident, you should report the accident to your insurance company and let the company know that you intend to use that coverage to help decrease the risk of claim denials.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
When you get into an accident with a driver who does not carry auto insurance, you may need to use your own uninsured motorist coverage to pay for the damages associated with the accident. Uninsured motorist coverage may provide the same types of compensation that you would receive if you filed a claim against the other driver’s insurance company, including damage to your vehicle, medical expenses, and lost wages as well as pain and suffering.
Using uninsured motorist coverage means that you have the funds available to handle medical expenses or pay for vehicle repairs if you have suffered an accident with an uninsured driver. Most California policies include the option for uninsured motorist coverage.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Sometimes, the other driver involved in your accident may carry auto insurance, but may not carry adequate auto insurance to cover the damages you sustained in the accident.
Suppose, for example, that you suffered $25,000 in property damage to your vehicle, but the liable driver carries only $15,000 in coverage. You could use underinsured motorist coverage to help cover the additional damages. Underinsured motorist coverage can also compensate for the other expenses you have faced because of the accident.
You need to change or cancel your insurance policy due to the accident.
Sometimes, you may need to change or cancel your insurance policy due to an accident. You may have realized that you do not carry adequate insurance to cover the damages you faced following a serious accident. While changing your insurance policy may not impact this accident, it can provide you with an additional means of pursuing compensation after future accidents of the same type.
If you suffered catastrophic damage that totaled your vehicle, you may need to cancel your insurance policy. In some cases, you might automatically have your insurance company write a replacement policy for a new vehicle. In others, you may prefer to wait to find the ideal vehicle, or not have the means to drive for some time after your accident. In those cases, you might want to cancel your policy outright and simply have a new policy written when you eventually purchase a new vehicle.
Your insurance company requires you to report any accident, even one you did not cause.
Some insurance companies may need to know about any accident that involved your vehicle, even if you did not cause the accident. Talk to your lawyer about the specific terms of your insurance policy and whether you may need to discuss the accident with your insurance company.
A lawyer can help you determine whether you need to report the accident, then report the accident on your behalf. A lawyer can also help answer your other questions about your accident and your insurance policy, including whether you can expect your insurance costs to go up due to the accident or how you can best handle your insurance moving forward.
Contact a Lawyer First After Your Accident
After a serious car accident, including one involving substantial property damage or any injury, working with a car accident lawyer can offer your best chance of protecting your full right to compensation and helping you navigate your car accident claim successfully.