After you’ve been in a car accident in Williamsport, conversing with your Pennsylvania auto insurance company is the last thing you want to do. However, it’s necessary to report the accident as soon as possible.
Read on to learn more about how to inform an insurance company about an accident you were involved in. Our Stapp Law, LLC car accident lawyer team will walk you through everything from reporting an accident to your insurance company, addressing what information to share (and what to leave out) when doing so, and when you may need to seek a personal injury attorney’s guidance in your case.
Notifying Your Insurer of Your Car Accident or Injury
You should know what to do if you’re in a car accident. So first, take care of your injuries and anyone else’s immediate medical needs. Then, once you’ve taken care of yourself and are safely back home, you can reach out to your insurance company to notify them about your Williamsport, PA crash. Typically, it would help if you let your insurance company know within 72 hours of the incident to ensure the swift processing of your claim.
You must be certain that you aren’t violating your company’s policies when reporting your accident or injury, as some may have different deadlines. Let’s make this clear, you should always be truthful with your insurance company, but, at the same time, there is some information that you shouldn’t readily volunteer unless asked. Next, let’s discuss how you can protect your interests.
Reporting the Accident: The Do’s
Your Pennsylvania auto insurance company is not on your side as much as you want them to be. They make money based on the premiums you pay, but the claims offset that profit. So it makes sense that they want to keep as much money from the premiums as possible. Here are some things you should do when reporting the accident to your insurer, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP):
- Tell them about what happened: When informing an insurance company about an accident, be sure to include where and when it occurred and which vehicles were involved. If there were any witnesses, get their contact information so your insurance company can speak with them. If you have any photos of the accident or the damage, be sure to send those along as well.
- Be prepared to answer questions about your injuries: Your insurance company will want to know how extensive your injuries are. Be truthful here but offer only facts; sometimes, it’s best to say that you’re “still treating” and leave it at that.
Know the Difference Between First-Party and Third-Party Insurance Claims
An insurance company is not always required to pay out for an accident. How? It all has to do with the type of claim you file. There are two types of insurance claims: first-party and third-party.
A first-party claim is when you file a claim with your own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. A third-party claim is when you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company to pay for damages. Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state, meaning you would typically file a claim with your insurer to recover compensation for damages stemming from the accident. However, if your losses exceed your own policy limits, then you can pursue the other motorist’s insurer for damages.
If the at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance to cover damages or isn’t insured, you would use your own insurance to cover the leftover expenses as long as you had uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. When reporting the facts, stick to the basics, including:
- The date and time of the accident
- Who witnessed the accident
- Policy numbers
- The location of the accident
- If you have injuries at the time
- A general description of the accident; as mentioned, don’t speculate or go into detail about the specifics.
The claims adjuster can determine any detailed information through an inspection. Your responsibility is to stick to the facts; they will review the evidence and come to conclusions themselves.
Reporting the Accident: The Don’ts
You should always cooperate with your insurance carrier’s investigation, allowing them to view property for damage or medical records. However, there are things you should keep to yourself. Here is a list of things you should NEVER volunteer to your insurance company:
- Don’t say that you don’t have injuries: If you must say something when informing your insurance company about your accident, say that you’re “still treating” and leave it at that.
- Don’t admit fault: Even if you think you might have been at least partially at fault for the crash (even in a no-fault state like here in Pennsylvania), don’t say anything that could be construed as an admission of guilt. It could lead insurers to provide you with inadequate compensation for your injuries. Instead, let insurers draw conclusions as they will during their own investigation.
- Don’t give a recorded or “official” statement: Your insurance company may pressure you into giving a recorded message, but before doing so, it’s essential to consult with a personal injury attorney. This is because, again, your or the other motorist’s insurance company could use anything you say against you in the claims process. Let the demand letter that your car accident attorney at Stapp Law, LLC writes be the narrative describing your accident and resulting injuries. Don’t take describing it into your own hand.
- Don’t accept a settlement: If the insurance company offers you a settlement, and especially early on, don’t accept it without consulting with an attorney first. Once you settle, that’s it—you can’t go back and ask for more money. Ensure any compensation you are offered adequately covers injuries, property damage, time off work, and future medical bills.
- Don’t admit to not having a lawyer: Please, do not tell the insurance company you don’t have an attorney yet if you haven’t retained one. Doing so will provide insurers with an opportunity to take advantage of you. Experienced attorneys like the ones at Stapp Law, LLC understand how these companies operate and will fight to ensure you receive adequate compensation for accident injuries.
Is There a Point When You May Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If your damages are significant or liability is unclear, it may be best to consult a car accident lawyer in our Williamsport, PA law firm before speaking with your insurance company. A personal injury attorney will fight for your rights and ensure you’re compensated. The insurance company may pressure you into accepting a lowball settlement or getting a recorded statement from you if you’re not careful to protect your interests. If you have any questions about how to inform an insurance company about an accident and whether you need a car accident attorney after an injury crash, contact our law office for a free consultation.
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