Whether you are an employer, business owner, independent contractor or the average citizen, it is important to know your rights and obligations under your insurance policy before contacting your insurance to avoid potential pitfalls. Most people think if they or their company are involved in an accident, they can call their insurance company (i.e. their “carrier”) and the insurance company will take care of the rest. Unfortunately this type of thinking can lead to your insurance company denying your claim based on how it interprets what you tell them on that initial call. It can also cause your insurance premiums to increase. In some cases, your reporting of the accident may even lead to a lawsuit against you and criminal penalties if it is determined the accident was caused by your negligence.
Understanding “the lingo”: When you (“the insured”) report an accident, your insurance company registers it as “a loss.” If you decide to pursue this loss in the hopes of receiving any insurance payment to cover the damages, you will be filing “a claim.” Multiple “losses” may arise from the same claim. For example, if your car was stolen and your laptop was inside the car at the time of the theft, you will be required to file one claim for the stolen car and a separate claim for the stolen personal property. If you do not advise your insurance company that you want to file a claim for both, you may lose the opportunity to be reimbursed on this claim due to a simple miscommunication.
“Just the facts”: It is important to provide truthful and accurate information when reporting an accident to your insurance company. If you do not know certain facts, such as the time of the accident, do not guess or speculate. Tell your insurance company you will check a reliable source, such as your call log or security footage, and you will get back to them with an answer soon. If you provide incorrect information at the time of the reporting and this information is later proven to be false, this mistake may be used against you when your insurance company determines how to resolve your claim.
Do not provide irrelevant information or otherwise volunteer information. For example, if you are reporting a car accident, do not volunteer when the last time you had an oil change since this information may only confuse the issue. It may also be used against you if the company questions your maintenance records later on in the claims process. Again, if you do not know the answer, tell them you will check your records and get back them.
“Assigning Fault”: If you are reporting an accident which resulted in death, serious injury or property damage, you may be held liable for the accident based on your initial reporting even if you do not think the accident was your fault. Sometimes saying something as simple as “I am sorry” may be misconstrued as admitting fault or accepting blame. To better understand your rights and obligations prior to reporting an accident to your insurance company, consult with a qualified attorney. Most insurance policies require you to report the accident soon after it occurred so do not delay in seeking help.
Here at Chauvel & Glatt, we can assist you in protecting your interests and resolving the claim favorably. To learn how our attorneys can help you, contact us today.