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How to Handle your Property Damage Claims after an Auto Accident

How to Handle your Property Damage Claims after an Auto Accident

If you’ve been in an auto accident, the first thing you want to do is to make certain that you aren’t injured in any way. Once you’ve done that, you can see to your vehicle. In most car collisions, the drivers aren’t injured at all, but the vehicles have hundreds or, more likely, thousands of dollars of property damage. This damage includes more than just the damage to the vehicle – it includes the damage done to any personal items that were in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

But actually handling a property damage claim can be confusing for people who have never dealt with one before. Here are the basic steps for making and handling a claim. Note that these steps assume that the accident was not your fault.

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    1. Are you Eligible?

    First, confirm that you are eligible to file a property damage claim with you’re auto insurance company. You can do this if you meet one of the following conditions:

    • Your vehicle incurred damage of any kind when hit by another.
    • You want that damage to be repaired by a professional.
    • Your car was damaged badly enough that you will need a temporary replacement while it gets repaired.
    • Your personal property was damaged or destroyed and you want to be compensated for its loss.

    If even one of these four points applies to you, you can file a property damage claim. If you’re uncertain if you can, you can speak to an auto accident attorney.

    2. Have the Right Information

    Unfortunately, many people miss their opportunity to get all of the right information because some of the things you may need when making your claim can only come from the scene of the accident. Remembering to gather all this information after being in an accident can be difficult, especially if you’ve been hurt or are badly shaken.

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    Make sure you know if a ticket was issued to the other driver. If the police who arrive at the scene decide that someone was at fault, they will issue a ticket. This is evidence that the other driver was negligent and will make your claim go through much more quickly and easily.

    You also need to collect as much information about the other driver, their insurance company, and the accident itself. Don’t rely on your memory – write everything down, put it in your phone, or even record it in a voicemail if you have to. You want to be sure you have all of the driver’s information – their phone number, address, and driver’s license information. You also need to know what insurance company they use, the company’s contact information, and their policy information. Finally, make sure you take note of any telling statements, especially if the other person admits guilt.

    Next, if you have your phone with you, take as many pictures of the accident itself as you can. This includes pictures of the other vehicle, the area, anything broken that has fallen off the cars, and any personal property that was damaged.  If you think it might be of use later, photograph it.

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    3. Make the Claim

    If you decide to file a claim, the first thing to do call your insurance company. You are required to file a claim with your own insurance company even if the accident wasn’t your fault. You can file your claim directly with the other person’s insurance company, too, but all insurance companies do require you to file with them as well. In many cases, it’s your insurance company that will get you in a rental car and will pay many of the upfront costs. Once the other insurance company has accepted liability, they will be reimbursed.

    Don’t wait for the other person’s insurance to contact you. In some cases, you’ll be waiting forever – the other person may not know that they are required to make a claim, and they may not want to admit that they were at fault. Get the process started as soon as you can. You don’t need an auto-accident attorney to file an insurance claim, but you may need to consult one if there is any resistance to your claim.

    4. Call the Other Insurance Company

    Next, call the other insurance company and make a claim. You will work with a claims adjuster and will be given a claim number, which you need to make sure you write down. Give them all of the information you gave to your insurance company. You’ll need to provide the claim number to your auto-accident attorney if you end up hiring one.

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    5. Get the Police Report and Weather Report

    Once the official police report is available, be sure to request a copy. You also want to get the weather report for the day of the accident, too. This can help prove your claim if the other person is saying the accident was due to weather conditions. Submit both of these reports to both insurance companies and your attorney.

    6. After the Claim

    Once the claim has been filed, you’ll work with the claim adjuster to coordinate the repairs to your vehicle. Remember, you can choose any auto repair shop you want, but the insurance may only be willing to pay for a certain amount. You can also ask for a rental car. You have the right to one, especially if your vehicle cannot be driven and will take several days or weeks to be fully repaired.

    7. Good Luck on your Claim!

    Making an auto accident claim is never fun, especially if the other driver is refusing to acknowledge guilt. Have you had any claim horror stories? Share them with us!

    Featured photo credit: Auto accident claim via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on March 4, 2019

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

    I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

    Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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    Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

    Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

    Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

    I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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    I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

    If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

    Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

    The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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    Using Credit Cards with Rewards

    Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

    You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

    I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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    So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

    What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

    Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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