Getting into a car accident—especially one that you didn’t cause—is never a fun or favorable experience. Even if no injuries are sustained and you walk away without a scratch, you may still need to file a claim with the insurance company in order to recover the damages to your vehicle and/or other property.
Read on to learn five reasons why you should be prepared before you speak with the insurance company about your car accident.
5 Reasons to Prepare Yourself
#1 - Insurance company representatives are thoroughly trained to be master manipulators.
It’s common for insurance carriers and agents to use your recorded statement as an opportunity to gather information from you that they’re not entitled to. Insurance companies take advantage of the fact that you are unfamiliar with the claims process, which automatically puts you at a disadvantage.
Insurance company representatives may sound like your best friends when you speak with them, but it’s important to remember that just because they’re friendly, DOES NOT mean they’re your friends. This is a popular tactic used in the insurance industry in order to coax sensitive information out of you that you wouldn’t otherwise share.
In order to avoid falling for the insurance company’s tricks, it’s in your best interest to consult a skilled car accident attorney before speaking with the insurance company. Your attorney will be able to tell you how to provide your statement so that you don’t say anything that can harm your claim later on.
#2 - Insurance company representatives won’t tell you that you have more than one option for providing your statement.
The insurance company may try to blindside you by calling and asking for your accident statement right away. While it is a good idea to provide a statement to the insurance company within a reasonable amount of time following an accident, you are by no means required to provide a statement before you are ready.
Additionally, you don’t have to provide your accident statement over the phone. In fact, you have the following three options for providing your statement:
- Over the phone
- In writing
- You attorney makes your statement for you
If you’re uncomfortable providing your statement to the insurance company over the phone, you can write it down so that you’re better able to gather your thoughts in a linear manner.
If you don’t feel comfortable providing a statement at all, it may be best to ask your attorney to provide your statement for you.
#3 - The insurance company will try to get you to settle for significantly less compensation than you deserve.
It is the industry standard to provide an inadequate initial settlement offer. Insurance companies do this because they’re banking on the hope that you don’t know you aren’t required to accept their first low-ball offer.
This is also done because they know some people can’t afford to hold out for more money and will reluctantly accept a lower settlement offer than they truly deserve.
You DO NOT, by any means, have to accept the insurance company’s first low-ball offer. If you are dissatisfied with the amount of compensation they’re offering you, don’t accept it. Let them know that you won’t accept any compensation amount that is less than what you sincerely deserve.
#4 - The insurance company will try to get you to use their suggested body shop.
Keep in mind that using the insurance company’s recommended body shop does not benefit you at all, but it benefits them considerably. Insurance companies often have deals worked out with certain body shops so that they receive discounts when their claimants take vehicles to those shops. Keep in mind that the savings will not be passed on to you.
The body shop the insurance company recommends may be efficient and highly-rated, but it may not be the best shop for you to use. If you have a preferred shop, you have the right to take your car there for repairs.
Whoever you hire for the repairs, be sure that they do not use aftermarket parts on your vehicle. These parts are often not manufactured with the same quality and care that stock parts are, so you should avoid any shop that utilizes aftermarket parts.
#5 - The insurance company will ask you to sign releases for information they’re not legally entitled to.
NEVER sign anything from the other party’s insurance company without first consulting your attorney. It is an industry-standard to request personal information that insurance companies not legally entitled to.
You DO NOT need to provide your social security number or sign any documents in order for the other party’s insurance company to move forward with your claim. In fact, signing such documents can seriously damage your claim.
Insurance companies request your personal information so that they can use who you are as a person to value your damages. Be tight with what you provide because they’ll use whatever they can to devalue your claim.
If your own insurance company asks you to sign documents, you’ll need to comply with their requests in order to access your benefits. Your attorney will be able to tell you which documents you need to sign and which ones you don’t.
Even if you think you understand the documents they’re asking you to sign, you may not completely understand the claims process and all the implications of signing such documents.
Overall, keep the following in mind when dealing with the insurance company:
- Have as little contact with the insurance company as possible.
- Have your attorney with you when you provide an accident statement.
- Don’t provide more information than is asked of you when speaking with the insurance company.
- Don’t accept an initial settlement offer that is less than what you deserve.
- You’re not required to use the body shop the insurance company recommends.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation. Let us see if we can help—contact our office right away with any questions you may have.
Call our experienced Nashville team at Witherington Injury Law today at (615) 697-6503 for a free consultation.