Accidents and Insurance Claims

Claims and Auto Insurance

Claims affect rates. The more claims you have, the more apt your automobile insurance is to rise.  You are much better off financially to handle the small things (under $1000), and let the automobile insurance company handle the big stuff. 

People come to me and say, “I want to get my moneys worth from my automobile insurance!” Well, if you want to get your moneys worth, let’s get your automobile insurance rates down and not expose you to the aggravation of settling injuries and damages. 

In order to get your automobile insurance rates down, you have to stop making so many claims. Fix the little ones yourself.  Then enjoy the protection that automobile insurance affords for the major claims.  If you want to avoid accidents, see my advice on avoiding tickets. The concept is the same.

  • Remain Calm! Get the Facts
  • Check for injuries, vehicle and property damage
  • In your car
  • In the other involved vehicles
  • Call an ambulance, if needed for immediate medical attention.
  • Call the police
  • Move the vehicles out of traffic if they are blocking or presenting a hazard.  (If there is a question of fault, a lack of witnesses or the vehicle is non movable, you may leave the vehicle at the accident position until an officer arrives)

Write down the following information The other drivers:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Home, work and cell phone
  • Name of their insurance company
  • Phone number of agent
  • Insurance policy number and effective date
  • The police department and officer’s name
  • The ambulance service that responds to the accident.
  • File an accident report and obtain medical assistance if needed. (State or local law may require a police report.)
  • license plate number
  • Year/make/model of auto
  • Vehicle identification number
  • If there are witnesses, get their: names, addresses, and phone numbers.
  • Limit your discussion with anyone except the police or insurance representative.
  • Do not admit fault at the scene of the accident.

Here is a suggestion given by j.brockman: “This is something that Bus Drivers are taught. ‘Use the 3 second rule’ when following other traffic. It works at all speeds and provides a safe following distance. If you are carrying a heavier load double the time factor.”

Avoiding Tickets:

A few years ago, I was invited into a High School class room to talk with the students about automobile insurance concepts.  After kidding a bit about some of the student’s impressive accumulation of tickets, I presented my “How to not get tickets program.”

  1. Do not be in a hurry, relax. 
  2. Don’t draw attention to yourself (spinning tires, sudden turns, accelerations, fast stops, following too close, wild designs and bright colors.)
  3. Allow time and space for the other driver to make mistakes. Follow ways back, never tailgate a car. If someone is doing it to you, move over and get as far away from him as you can.
  4. Allow someone else to be faster than you on the road, let their automobile insurance rates go up! (We all drive fast on the freeways, just make sure that there is always someone a little faster than you who is passing you on the left.) 
  5. Never, never, never speed or run a light if you are the only one on the road! (At that moment you are the only game in town, any officer around will be watching only you). 

Even with tickets, it never hurts to shop. Just do not leave your own auto insurance carrier until you are approved by the new auto insurance carrier. A quote is not enough. You will want solid confirmation from the new auto insurance carrier.

Optional Coverage

Towing:

Every automobile insurance policy should have to tow.  Either that or a good motor club.  That is one of the little aggravations of life that can be handled very inexpensively.

Rental Reimbursement:

If you have a single car or no other means of transportation, get rental reimbursement on your automobile insurance policy. The number one claims complaint is a need for a rental car.  If you have alternate transportation, then save your money.

Sound Coverage:

If everything is “built-in” where the manufacturer intended, then it is covered by the comprehensive coverage on your automobile insurance policy.  Keep your receipts, if you add upgrades to the sound system.  If you have added speakers, boosters or other equipment outside of those areas, then bolt them down and buy the sound coverage offered in your automobile insurance policy. It’s not covered unless you have purchased the coverage.

Young Drivers:

Young drivers are the worry of every parent. They make automobile insurance premiums climb.  They expose the entire family’s well-being to risk. What do we do with them?

May I Suggest:

-Do not run out and buy a newer car and put it on your automobile insurance. The old “liability car” will do just fine. If they wreck it, you can go get another one.  There are no loans with payments. And the automobile insurance is much lower without collision and comprehensive.

-Teach them safe driving habits. Refer to the above section on tickets. Remember that if you have one young driver in the car you have a good driver.  If you have a friend with them, you get a “half” of a good driver. And with two friends there is rarely a good driver anywhere.

-Good students make good drivers. Have them qualify for the good student discounts that most automobile insurance companies make available.

-Do not hide them. Get them on the spot car insurance. By not listing them on your automobile insurance, you only hurt them in the future and you expose them and you to unnecessary risk.

-It does not hurt to get some comparative pricing.  You would be surprised how the company’s prices vary for the same drivers.

Here is an idea!

Here is an idea that has worked for me; maybe it will help you too.  A number of years ago I listened to a man speak about how he taught his 16-year-old children how to drive.  

The first thing he did was to get a little bouncy troll with long ugly hair and a gnarly face.  He mounted the troll on the dash of the car with a label attached in bold letters: “ICKY” Well, ICKY became a family pet among all of the young drivers of the family. He kept them safe from harm. 

Not because of any charm or magic. Just simply because of the name. Impatience Can Kill You.  Each one of the children knew the meaning of ICKY.  I was so impressed with the story that I have used the same teaching with each of my own children, with reasonably good success.  

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