The frantic aftermath of a vehicle accident can make it easy to miss those few critical steps that could determine the successful outcome of an insurance claim. If you are involved in a vehicle accident, remember these top tips that will help ensure that your claim is smooth and successful.
1. Make sure that your policy is up to date at all times.
Checking your insurance policy periodically is a good habit to get into. This is the first and most crucial step towards having your claim successfully paid out. If you are in an accident and your policy is out of date, a payout will more than likely be affected adversely.
2. Don’t allow anyone else to tow your vehicle except your insurer’s accredited supplier. So always have the call centre contact number available.
When getting authorisation for the vehicle to be towed from the scene of an accident, make sure you speak to your insurer yourself. What does happen is that tow operators sometimes offer to call your insurance company and then hand you the phone. It is possible that the person on the other end is not your insurer but just someone working with the tow operator. It’s understandable that you could fall for this in all the stress and confusion of the whole event.
3. Report the accident to the police within 24 hours and provide your insurer with the case reference number.
This is another key component of a successful claim. If there is another party involved in the accident, be sure to get their contact details and, if possible, their insurance information so that you can open a case with the police. According to road traffic rules they are obliged to provide you with this information. Your insurer will then need this case reference number to process your claim.
4. Report the accident to your insurer as soon as possible.
When you are involved in an accident, your insurer will highlight in your policy the window in which you have to report the incident. Be sure to include the case reference number mentioned in the previous point in your account of the accident.
5. Always tell the truth about the accident and the circumstances surrounding it.
Understandably their insurers because of the stringency of the assessments and policy wording often upset people, especially if the circumstances surrounding the claim are stressful or traumatic. However, considering the number of people that attempt to inflate their claims, it is necessary that the process is as meticulous as possible. These measures also allow insurers to make insurance as affordable as possible for everyone.
6. Provide your insurer with the necessary documents where required.
Examples of such documentation is the accident claims form and copy of ID and drivers license. Just one document missing at the claim stage means that your vehicle repair can be delayed by days or weeks.
7. Take your vehicle for an assessment as directed by your insurance company.
You will have a choice of panel beaters or drive-in centre’s where assessors appointed by your insurance company will examine your vehicle and estimate your claim. Do not try to avoid, sidestep or improperly influence this process. Following the rules gets your claim paid quickly and fairly.
8. Alternatively, should your insurer require quotations, the following process will apply.
Some insurers require you to get quotations from panel shops approved by the insurance company. Stick to this and you will be just fine. You need to be aware that the insurance company know exactly how some people try to undermine this process by getting made-up quotes on fictitious letterheads.
9. Ensure that you take your vehicle to the panel shop designated by your insurer.
Once the insurer has assessed and approved your claim, you will be informed of where to take your vehicle for the necessary repairs to be effected. The insurer will authorise the repairs with the approved panel beater.
10. Be very clear about what excess you have to pay.
The panel shop will not release your vehicle until you’ve paid the excess. The excess amount is specified in your policy document and you need to be sure about what you’re liable for. There is no other arrangement that will work and it is best to plan for paying the excess before you try to get your vehicle from the panel shop.
Most importantly stay in constant communication with your insurer. If you aren’t sure, just ask about the correct process to follow and the better you follow this process the easier and quicker you will have your claim approved and your vehicle fixed again.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. (E&OE)