The roads in Kansas City, MO are congested every single day. To make matters worse, many people drive over the posted speed limit. This inevitably leads to motor vehicle accidents. Whenever the motor vehicle accident is serious and leads to personal injury and/or property damage, the driver is required to report the incident to both his auto insurance company and that of the other party.
How Do I Tell My Auto Insurance Company About My Accident?
When you first get involved in a car accident, resist the impulse to immediately call the auto insurance company, because it may not be a good idea. The first thing to know is that all insurance companies hate paying out money and they will find any loophole they possibly can to minimize the payout. Therefore, before you call them here is a list of things you must do:
- The process of trying to make a claim with the auto insurance company is always a trying affair. The best way to succeed is to have the proper information. The best thing you can do is to contact a lawyer. In addition, you should also:
- Collect all the information at the scene of the car accident. This means getting the full name of the other driver, address, car registration, number plates, and license number.
- Ask the other driver for the name of his/her insurance company and policy number
- Obtain any statements from nearby witnesses, including their names and phone number.
- Take photos of the scene and surrounding area from different angles. This must also include the other car.
- If the police respond, always get the officer’s ID and name. Speak to the police officer, answer all questions calmly and politely but do not make any claims about who was at fault or not. The police will usually issue a ticket if there were any traffic violations and will also file a report.
- If you have any type of injury, even if you consider it to be minor, seek medical assistance immediately. This will help maintain a record of any injuries that occurred as a result of the accident. Without a medical report, the insurance company will deem your injuries to be trivial and consequently, your reimbursement will be minuscule.
- If there is a question as to who is at fault, never ever give a statement to the other driver. Simply exchange the car insurance information and leave it at that.
- Now that you have all this essential information, you need to speak to the other insurance company. Do not volunteer too much information over the phone and keep the conversation limited to the facts. In most cases, the other insurance company will try and minimize your injuries or even deny any large claims. You have to remember that the insurance companies have significant resources and even lawyers to back them up and they keenly watch what you say. Be very careful.
- Never ever give a recorded statement to the insurer. This recorded statement may come back to haunt you. If the other insurer tells you that a recorded statement is routine practice, do not fall for this and speak to a personal injury lawyer first. Remember you are at a major disadvantage because you may not be familiar with all the laws of your city and state. Once you have made a recorded statement, then there is no going back and the auto insurance company can and will use it to their advantage. The only time you should call the other driver’s insurance company is when you file a claim. Only provide the date, time and place.
- Never settle for the first offer. Many people involved in a car accident tend to settle immediately but if your injury was to become chronic, then you do not get a second chance. Make sure you are getting the right compensation. Talk to your lawyer and go over the specifics of the offer.
- It is important that you take as many photos of the car accident as you can as these can go a long way to support your case. In addition, if you or any of your passengers were injured, take photos at the time of the injury and then take the photos of the injuries every day. For example, if the bruises are getting worse, you can show what they look like initially and how the injuries have worsened over time. This photographic evidence may be required if the auto insurance company or the other driver challenge your claim with respect to injuries.
- Even though you may consider the accident a minor fender bender, call the police. The reason is that this helps document the event as to what happened, why, how and where. If there is ever a dispute in future and the police were not called, then it is your word against the other driver.
- If the cause of the accident is clear and straightforward and you have not suffered any injury, then you are free to talk directly to the other auto insurance company. However, beware that the insurers are usually loyal to their customers and will rarely go out of their way to please you.
- Do not sign a medical authorization for the other driver’s insurance company; instead collect all your information, including medical records and bills, and then mail them separately to the insurer.
Meet with a Kansas City Car Accident Attorney for a Consultation Today
It is important to be vigilant and sensible when dealing with insurance companies after a car accident. Most people are too upset about the situation itself to think of the consequences of what they say or do after the accident. But these tips will help you get through the initial phase. If you have been in a car accident, call us at Krause & Kinsman. One of our attorneys will discuss the specifics of your case, determine how much compensation you are entitled to and will ensure all proper documentation is filed. Dealing with auto insurance companies can be challenging but we are here to help you sort out any issues that come up during this process.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.