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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 November 27, 2020

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

    In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

    4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

    Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

    1. Be Clear About the Objectives

    Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

    It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

    Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

    2. Keep Goals Realistic

    It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

    It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

    3. Account for Inflation

    Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

    Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

    For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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    4. Short Term Vs Long Term

    Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

    As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

    By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

    How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

    Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

    • Ensuring healthy savings
    • Making smart investments

    You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

    Ensuring Healthy Savings

    Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

    This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

    1. Track Expenses

    The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

    Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

    If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

    2. Pay Yourself First

    Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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    Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

    The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

    Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

    3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

    Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

    Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

    At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

    Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

    You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

    4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

    In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

    Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

    • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
    • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
    • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

    The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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    5. Talk About It

    Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

    Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

    6. Maintain a Journal

    For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

    If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

    When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

    Making Smart Investments

    Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

    1. Consult a Financial Advisor

    Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

    Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

    2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

    Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

    Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

    As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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    3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

    Einstein once remarked about compounding:

    “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

    Use compound interest when setting financial goals

      Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

      Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

      4. Measure, Measure, Measure

      All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

      If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

      Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

      The Bottom Line

      Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

      and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

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      Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

      Reference

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