If you have experienced a car accident, you know the time immediately after the crash is stressful; there’s so much to do, not to mention the fact that you likely have property damage and injuries to contend with. This brief guide will outline the steps drivers should take after a car accident and through the completion of the claim.
The Houston Car Accident Claim Process
- Call the police. A police officer will investigate the scene of your accident and ask the involved for a statement. The officer will record the scene and statements in the police report. Later, the official police report can assist you in filing your claim.
- Exchange insurance information. Ensure you have access to the other parties’ insurance information. Sometimes, the officer on the scene will record the name and contact information for you. Other times, you will have to ask for the information yourself. In addition, if witnesses are present, ask for their contact information.
- Contact your insurance company. From the scene, call your insurance company and notify them of the accident. Give details without claiming fault, and use the police report if you have it in-hand. Your insurance company will open your claim and will likely have instructions regarding how to proceed if you cannot drive your car away from the scene – you may have towing and roadside assistance coverage.
- Seek medical care. If you received injuries as a result of the accident, medical personnel may remove you from the scene. Otherwise, stay on the scene until the police release you. It is important to seek treatment so you will have a record of your injuries. Retain any medical statements and bills for your claim.
- File an accident report, if necessary. The state of Texas requires anyone involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damages over $1,000 to file an accident report with the Texas DOT within ten days. The police report will eliminate your need to file a separate accident report, but in the event that something went amiss, it is always best to make sure the DOT is aware.
- Speak with a claims representative. Most insurance companies will contact you within 24 to 48 hours of the accident to further discuss your claim. An adjuster may ask you for more detailed information regarding the accident and will use the information to investigate the circumstances of the accident. Answer questions to the best of your ability, but do not accept fault or a settlement over the phone at this point. Provide the adjuster with information regarding any injuries received.
- Wait for an estimate. If your car is in the shop, the adjuster will make arrangements to have an estimate performed by an approved mechanic. During this time, the adjuster may arrange for a rental car if you have coverage on your policy. Once the estimate is in, the adjuster will discuss your coverage and let you know how much of the damages your policy covers.
- Results of the estimate. If the estimated damage is more than the value of your car, the car is a total loss. If you have coverage, your insurance company will reimburse you for the value of your vehicle, less your deductible.
If the estimated damage is less than the value of your car, the adjuster will inform you regarding the dollar amount and the procedure for fixing the damage. Most often, the insurance company will pay the shop directly for repairs. The shop must approve any additional repairs through the insurance company or you will be responsible for payment. Every insurance company handles payments a little differently, so inquire with yours regarding the payment process.
Your insurance company should work for you, which is the reason you’ve been paying insurance premiums. If you do not feel the claims process is going as it should, you should speak to a car wreck lawyer in Houston.