Addressing an insurance company for a car insurance policy you have to be extremely careful and farsighted not to have troubles in the future. You have to clearly understand that you buy a policy not because everybody does, but to insure fair compensation in case of an accident. That’s why first of all you need to gather information, shop around and choose a reliable insurer and the most appropriate policy terms. Even if your insurance provider is noted for excellent service, there are several things that you should do to speed the process along and ensure timely collection from your insurance company in case of an insured accident.
First of all, it is important for you to know the scope and limitations of your coverage. This is to avoid wasting time and effort on details, only to find that you are have no legal grounds for the compensation you are seeking. Read your insurance policy and clarify any questions you may have with your insurance agent.
If you are satisfied with all terms of your policy written in the contract then you have to carry your obligations thoroughly. If you are a good policyholder who has had no problem making premium payments and who has had a generally good relationship with your provider, the claims settlement process would usually be much easier.
After an insured accident happened and you are sure to have legal grounds to receive compensation from your insurance company, than you have to act. Your rights as a consumer of the insurance industry are protected by an “Unfair Insurance Practices Act” or an “Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act” which were adopted by most states.
The specifics of these regulations vary widely from state to state, but, generally speaking, an insurance company is obliged to:
1. Acknowledge your claim within a certain time period, such as 15 days;
2. Investigate your claim promptly;
3. Make a good faith attempt to process a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of claims in which liability is reasonably clear.
Additionally, an insurer may not refuse to pay your claim without a valid reason.
If an insured accident takes place, you need to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. You should give them the most detailed picture of the accident, such as the police report, photographs, evidences and witnesses’ accounts. Provide them with documentation of any injuries which happened to you in the accident as well. If you also have a written evidence of the date and time of your conversations with your insurance company, the names and contact numbers of the agents you have talked to, it may help you greatly to prove that you cooperated with your provider and gave them all the information they needed.
You are also recommended to get an appraisal from your car repair shop of the expenses for repairing your damaged car. In such a way you can ensure a fair damage appraisal by comparing it to your company’s variant, if they will try to cheat you.
Writing a letter to your insurance provider detailing your expectations and rights, as well as their obligation to compensate you in accordance with your policy limits and your contract with them is also recommended by the experts.
If ever you are uncertain about any step in the claims settlement – such as waivers or releases that need to be signed – it would be best to consult with legal counsel before taking action.
If you feel that your insurance company has violated your contract’s terms file a complaint with your state’s insurance department. If the department receives enough similar complaints, it will conduct an investigation. If you sue an insurance company privately some legal rules may help you, such as:
1. Coverage provisions will be construed broadly;
2. Limitation and exclusion provisions will be construed narrowly;
3. Ambiguities in the policy will be interpreted in your favor.
In some states, if the court’s decision is in your favor, the insurer may only compensate you the amount of your claim. But, in other states, you may also be awarded legal fees and punitive damages. So to get the most prompt coverage from your insurance company, just be well-informed of your rights and abilities. And these small tips may serve you a useful guide not to get lost in the insurance industry.