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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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    Published on September 17, 2018

    How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

    How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

    Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

    With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

    So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

    1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

    It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

    You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

    So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

    2. When you want something big, wait

    Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

    It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

    We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

    A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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    So, you get the itch.

    You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

    Here’s where you have to take a step back.

    Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

    Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

    It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

    The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

    3. Live smaller than you can afford

    You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

    You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

    That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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    Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

    Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

    The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

    But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

    4. Practice smart grocery shopping

    Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

    But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

    Create a grocery budget

    Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

    Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

    I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

    Make a list… and never deviate

    Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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    You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

    These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

    Eat before going grocery shopping

    It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

    If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

    After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

    Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

    However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

    This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

    5. Cancel your gym membership

    Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

    The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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    Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

    I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

    Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

    Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

    For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

    Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

    There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

    It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

    I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

    Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

    The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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