If you’ve ever been involved in a motor accident, you’ll know that dealing with the aftermath and the claims procedure can be confusing and stressful. Here’s some simple, helpful tips to ensure your claim goes as smoothly as possible.
Don’t wait too long to notify your insurer/broker
How long do you have? Ideally, you should report a claim as soon as possible. The deadline for filing an official claim will vary by policy type and insurer. If you’re in doubt, notify as soon as possible.
If you’re able to, and the car is legally drivable, get an estimate for repairs from your local garage. This may not end up being the garage which is appointed to repair your vehicle, but an idea of the cost of damages caused will tick the next box in the claim’s journey.
Don’t make a claim when you shouldn’t
If you have caused only minor damage to your own vehicle, and there is no third-party involved, you may want to think twice about making a claim. Getting an estimate for repairs and the vehicle checked for road-worthiness will help with this, but if the repair cost is less than your excess amount, or only a bit more than your excess, it’s probably not worth making the claim, especially when you may be risking an increase to your premium come renewal.
Always take pictures
Document everything, the more, the better. The insurers will be appreciative for the evidence, and it will really help with the further details of the claim. Remember, they aren’t just interested in the damage caused. They’ll want to know the weather conditions, if there are skid marks, the relation of the vehicles to each other, road markings, traffic signals and blind spots, to name a few.
Collect as much evidence as possible
It isn’t just photos, but any kind of evidence. Third party details, witness details, if the police attend the scene, their details as well. Also keep in mind the true value of your vehicle. An insurance company will use various online tools to establish the market value of your vehicle at the time, but that may not take into account low mileage, good condition, additional extras, or modifications such as alloy wheels, which you are entitled to have replaced like-for-like in the event of a claim.
Don’t say you’re fine or admit fault
As part of the insurance claim, and insurance company will find out if there is any personal injury. A simple statement of “I am fine”, will often be noted and used to negate any subsequent pain you may feel, even a few hours to a few days after the incident. By that same merit, never admit fault at the scene of an incident, even if it seems that way at the time of the incident. The respective insurance companies will decide this based on the evidence and statements provided by both parties, and if you admit fault, this will go a long way towards the claim going against you.
But don’t lie about what happened
It might cross your mind to lie about the circumstances of an accident if it seems like you were at fault. But ultimately, it’s important to be truthful so that your claim isn’t void later due to misrepresentation.
Remember, both parties will be submitting their own evidence, there’s also witness statements, and if the police were involved, their evidence will also be taken into account. Also, most major cities and towns now have traffic and security cameras dotted around, so if you’re caught lying, this will definitely go against you.
Don’t offer too much information
On the flip side, your willingness to tell more than the whole story could be also problem. Just answer the questions that the insurance company asks, without offering a lot of extra commentary. Too much elaboration can give an insurer excuses to delay the payment.
Get yourself a broker
Brokers know the industry, and they work on your behalf, with insurers to take the stress out of insurance, where and when it matters. Most of the time, parts of the claim are dealt with in the background between your broker and your insurance company, without you even being involved.
Brokers will also intimately know how the claims process goes, and they’ll be able to advise you what you need to do, and what you can realistically expect with regards to timescales, questioning, and keeping you on the road whilst your vehicle is repaired.