When Purchasing Auto Insurance Make Sure You Understand What Is Covered
Even if you have not been involved in an accident it is important to understand what coverages you have. Before you buy car insurance you should have a good understanding of exactly what is and is not covered under your policy. This way there are no surprises if you do need to file a claim. Unfortunately some people just buy whatever coverage is the cheapest and have no idea that certain important protections have been left out. This can mean that they have to pay out of pocket in the event of a collision which is something nobody wants to do.
Ask your agent or broker for a copy of the declarations page which is the explanation of coverages for your policy. Study this page and make sure you have been informed about what the coverage limits are and what coverages are excluded if any. If any changes need to be made be sure to request them in writing and preferably mail them in to your insurance company by certified mail to be sure they receive it.
After An Accident What Do You Do?
The time immediately following a car accident is very important. If it is a major accident and you and your passengers are injured call for emergency help immediately. Even if nobody is injured call the nearest law enforcement office to get an officer to come out and take a report. Some agencies will not come out if there is minimal damage but try to get them to come out anyway to take a report especially if it is a hit and run as some carriers require this to file a claim for such an accident.
If there is only property damage and you are able to exit your vehicle safely you need to do so and trade necessary information with the other parties. Be sure to get the other drivers names, phone numbers, addresses and auto insurance information. Most importantly do not admit fault to anyone ever even if you feel you were the responsible party for the collision.
After you have all of the information for all the parties involved contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Ask for the claims department, the phone number is usually located on the back of your proof of insurance ID card. Report the accident in as much detail as possible and do not tell them that it was your fault, simply state the facts of what happened.
After you report the accident to your car insurance carrier they will usually send out an adjuster to examine the damage and make an estimate of how much it will cost to repair or replace the vehicle. This can take a few days to a couple weeks to complete. If you feel that it is taking too long and are not making progress with the company contact your states Department of Insurance to get the necessary help.
What If I Am Found At Fault In A Car Accident?
If you are found at fault in the accident you will be responsible for paying your collision deductible and your carrier will be responsible for paying the remaining costs of repairs or replacement of the vehicles involved. With an at fault accident on your record it could also make it harder for you to get inexpensive auto insurance.
If your company does raise your rates because you are found at fault in an accident you are not obligated to continue on with them. It would be a good idea to compare car insurance rates from other companies to see if you can get a lower premium. The more carriers you quote the better chances you have of finding the lowest price possible.
The California Department of Insurance has a great resource called So You’ve Had An Accident be sure to check it out as it contains a lot of additional information. The tips there can be helpful no matter what state you live in.