Drivers are taught to exchange information with other drivers when an accident occurs. But after a car accident, how should you deal with insurance companies? If you don’t know, that’s okay! You’re not alone. Traffic accidents are chaotic, and dealing with insurance companies can be confusing, even for the most experienced drivers.
Take a moment to collect yourself after a traffic accident, document the scene, and then take out your cellphone. There will be a few phone calls you’ll want to make.
What should you do if you’re not at-fault for an accident?
Typically, if someone hits you with their vehicle, you’ll want to call your own insurance company and avoid speaking to the other person’s insurance company, whenever possible. Of course, it’s never as simple as all that. Here are a few steps that can make the process of handling insurance companies easier.
- Call the police: Ask police officers to come down to the accident scene. You will especially want to do this if you’re not at-fault for an accident.
- Call your insurance company: When someone hits your car, you should call your own insurance company. Tell them that there’s been an accident.
- Be prepared to give your insurance company information: Once you have contacted your insurance adjuster, provide them with the information you received from the other driver(s) involved, which police department handled your case; and the location, time, and date of an accident.
- Do not contact the other driver’s insurance company: Wait until you have spoken to a lawyer about your case before speaking to the other driver’s insurance company.
Dealing with insurance can be stressful, but by speaking to the right people and avoiding others, you can set up a strong foundation for your personal injury case.
Reasons some people don’t report accidents
Some people may be worried about reporting an accident to their adjuster out of fear that their premiums will go up. It is unlikely your rates will increase after a collision if you’re not the at fault party. Insurance companies use many different factors to determine whether or not your rates will increase. Adjusters take into account the severity of your accident, such as your driving history, whether you’re the at-fault party, and the value you have to your insurance company.1
Others may be worried about this accident showing up on their record. Calling an officer to the scene can help prevent this. Every accident reported to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will show up on your record, unless an officer’s report says you were not the at-fault motorist. Although this is not a guarantee, it can help. By not calling an officer, you risk the chance of an accident staying on your record anywhere from three to five years.
How should you handle the other driver’s insurance adjuster?
After an accident, the other party’s insurance company will most likely attempt to contact you. You don’t have to speak to them! In fact, it is better not to talk to the other driver’s adjuster when you have been injured in a collision, period. Instead, you should find a car accident lawyer to handle you claim. Your lawyer and your insurance adjuster should do the talking for you. This is for your own protection because insurance adjusters are trained to use manipulation and other tricks to fish out information in an attempt to hurt your claim and the amount of compensation your case may be worth.
On the off chance you do need to speak to the other driver’s adjuster, you must be careful. Keep the following in mind so you’re not tricked into giving out too much information:
- Do not discuss what condition you may be in. An adjuster may ask you how you’re doing, pretending they care about your well-being. In reality, they’re trying to find information that may point to your injuries not being as serious as you claim.
- Anything you say can be used against you. This is why you should never offer up any additional information that could be potentially construed in their favor.
- Never agree when they ask if they can record your conversation. Recordings of your conversations can be used as evidence against you! California is a “two-party” state, meaning both parties must agree to be recorded.2 An adjuster cannot legally record you if you say no.
- Avoid speculating. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you don’t know. Never attempt to guess an answer.3
If the other company’s adjuster calls you, ask if you can have your own adjuster on the line with you or send them your adjuster’s or lawyer’s information so they can contact them. Remember: the goal is to never speak to the other company’s adjuster, if possible.
Dealing with insurance can be stressful, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Our car accident lawyer from Wilshire Law Firm will fight the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf so you can receive the maximum compensation for your claim possible. Contact us today and schedule your free consultation at 1-800-522-7274.
Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to serve as legal advice, nor does it constitute a guarantee or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.
- The Department of Motor Vehicles, “How Auto Claims Affect Auto Insurance Rates”
- Digital Media Law Project, “California Recording Law”
- Nolo, “Insurance Adjusters: First Discussions”