This article is about what to expect when you call the insurance company of the person who caused the accident you were in.
In my previous article and video named OC Accident Lawyer-Tip # 1 -How to Handle Your Calif. Accident Case I discussed the following three things that you need to do after you get to your home or office after an accident.
- Complete a California DMV SR-1 form and send it to the DMV.
- Call the insurance company of the person who caused the accident.
- Call your own insurance company.
This article is about step # 2 in the above list of 3 things to do.
Call the insurance company of the person who caused the accident.
You need to call to the insurance company of the person who caused the accident. When you call that insurance company you need to ask for the claims department.
The claims department is the section of the insurance company which handles decisions about paying for your car damage and your personal injuries. Here is some information to help you in making this important phone call.
You will be talking to an employee of the insurance company called a claims representative. These people are often referred to as insurance adjusters. The reason they are called adjusters is because they adjust the amount they will pay on your claim to what they think is an appropriate amount.
The claims adjuster will probably ask you for the following information.
- Your name, address, phone number and social security number.
- The facts of the accident and the names and phone numbers of any witnesses
- Whether the police came and if a report was completed yet.
- Present location of the vehicle you were driving.
- If you were injured.
- If your injuries were soft tissue injuries, fractures or other injuries.
- If you will consent to giving a recorded statement to the adjuster.
Your name, address, phone number and social security number.
The adjuster will need this information to contact you and to mail you letters about different events on your claim. There is no problem in giving your contact information to the adjuster.
The adjuster will ask if you are old enough to qualify for Medicare. If you are the adjuster will need your social security number in order to communicate with Medicare. Under a recent federal law, if you are a Medicare beneficiary the insurance company will require a release from Medicare before the insurance company pays your claim.
The facts of the accident and any witness’s information.
This is the part of the phone interview where you have to be careful. The person you are talking to works for and is the representative of an insurance company. That company would prefer to not give you any money for your claim. If you say something that makes the adjuster think that you are partly or completely at fault that adjuster may adjust the value of your claim downwards or even fully deny your claim.
In giving the facts of the accident to the adjuster you should just stick to the facts you actually know. If there are things about the accident that you don’t know or don’t remember just say you don’t know or don’t remember. If you volunteer information that the adjuster can use against you later that adjuster can and most probably will use the information to deny or reduce the value of your claim.
Present location of the vehicle you were driving.
Your car is your personal property. For this reason the vehicle repair part of your claim is called the property damage portion of your claim.
For the property damage portion of your claim the adjuster needs to have your vehicle looked at by a person called a property damage adjuster. The adjuster needs the location of your vehicle in order to do that.
The insurance company prefers that you leave your vehicle at a repair shop for a day or two if possible. That way your vehicle can be put up on a vehicle lift to look for damage underneath the car if necessary.
At this time you should also ask the adjuster if he or she will reimburse you for renting a car until your vehicle is repaired. The at fault driver’s insurance company is usually required to reimburse your credit card charges for the rental of a comparable rental while your vehicle is being repaired.
If you were injured.
The adjuster will ask if you were injured. This is in regard to what is called the bodily injury part of your claim. You are entitled to money for the reasonable value of your medical bills and your pain and suffering. The adjuster will want to know if you suffered soft tissue injuries or other type injuries.
Soft tissue injuries are injuries to muscles, tendons or ligaments. They are usually classified as sprain or strain type injuries to the neck or back.
Injuries other than soft tissue injuries include fractures, knee joint injuries, ankle joint injuries, elbow injuries or shoulder injuries. They may also include any other injury not classified as a soft tissue injury.
If you will consent to giving a recorded statement to the adjuster.
Under California law the adjuster cannot make a recording of your conversation without your permission. For this reason, the adjuster may ask you if you will agree to give a recorded statement.
You need to know that it is perfectly acceptable for you to decline to give a recorded statement. The adjuster does not have a right to deny you anything if you decline to give a recorded statement.
Again, this is where you want to be careful. The adjuster may later use something you mistakenly said in a recorded statement against you. I always advise my clients to politely decline to give a recorded statement. It is designed to help the insurance company, not to help you.
I hope the above information is useful to you. More details about this part of handling an accident claim can be found in my Free Book 9 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your California Vehicle Accident Case. You can download the book or you can request that a copy be mailed to your home, also at no charge.
I also invite you to look at my other library articles on How to Handle Your Own Calif. Accident Case on my website.
Good luck on your case. Please see my disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: The author takes no responsibility for mistakes made by persons handling their own cases. The information in this article is general in nature and readers should discuss their case with a qualified attorney before making any important decisions in handling their own cases. Many attorneys will give you a free fifteen to thirty minute phone consultation and you should call an attorney and discuss what you plan to do before making any in important decisions on your case.