You’ve been involved in an auto accident. Your car is damaged, you’re shaken up and you’re not sure what to do. As a Delray FL insurance lawyer with over 30 years of experience, I have learned a few things that may help you.
First, call your insurance company as soon as possible. If you delay notifying your insurance company of the auto accident, it can deny coverage for a loss that would otherwise be covered. Every insurance policy I have reviewed requires a policyholder to timely notify their insurance company of a loss. Some policies have language that requires notice “as soon as possible,” while other policies use language that requires the insured to notify the insurance company “within a reasonable period of time” after an accident. If you delay notifying your insurance company of the accident, the insurer may claim that you prejudiced its ability to investigate, evaluate and properly adjust your claim. In many states, the failure to promptly notify an insurance company of a loss creates a presumption of prejudice to the insurer, which can be very difficult to overcome. If your insurer denies your claim on the basis that you failed to timely notify it of the loss, I suggest you speak with a qualified insurance lawyer in your area.
Second, be careful about the information you supply to the insurance company. You have an obligation to cooperate with your own insurer, so you must provide it with information it reasonably requests as part of the investigation of your claim. If you fail to cooperate with your own insurer it can deny your otherwise covered claim based on your failure to cooperate. Thus, if your insurer asks you for information and documentation in connection with your claim, you must promptly provide the insurer with the requested information and documentation. However, you do not have the same obligation to cooperate with the other driver’s insurer. The other driver’s insurer is not your friend and you should be very careful about the information you provide to it. It is very common for the other driver’s insurer to request a recorded statement from anyone who may have a claim against it. When this is done in the cases I am involved in it is very rare that I allow my clients to give such a statement to the other driver’s insurer. One of the reasons the insurer wants a recorded statement is to potentially use your statement against you later on. If you have any concerns about the information requested by your own insurer or the other driver’s insurer, I suggest you speak with an insurance lawyer in your area.
Finally, just before notifying your insurer of the accident, I suggest you pull out your insurance policy and review it to see what types of coverage you have. If you can’t find it, call your agent or the insurer and request a copy of it. Many insurers will send you a complete copy of the policy when you first purchase it, but only send you changes or endorsements to the policy when it is renewed. It is important that you have a full copy of the policy. I know that many people don’t understand the different types of coverages, but it is a good idea to review the policy and familiarize yourself with the coverage that are available in order to ensure that you get the full benefit of all the coverages that you have paid for. If you have a question about the coverages that are available or the manner in which your insurance company has handled your loss, it is a good idea to contact a local insurance lawyer for help. Most insurance lawyers will provide you with a free consultation and can explain the different types of coverages and whether you are getting the full benefit of all the coverages available under your policy.
Thanks to our friend and blog author, Eric H. Luckman of the Law Office of Eric H. Luckman, P.A., for his insight into filing auto accident claims.