The Dos and Don'ts in Dealing with an Insurance Company

Do contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident has occurred. If emergency medical treatment is required this can be done once you have received treatment. Otherwise, contact your insurance company as soon as you get home from the car accident.

Do read your insurance policy to make sure you understand what coverage your policy includes. This should be done before you speak with an adjuster. The most important sections of your policy to review are the "Coverage" and "Exclusion" portions of you policy.

Do keep a record of all conversations with insurance company representatives. These records should include detailed notes of any conversations and the names, contact information, and job titles of the people you talk with.

Do gather any and all other insurance policies you or other members of your household have. This way your attorney will be able to determine whether there is any additional coverage that might apply. In particular, locate your homeowner policies, "umbrella" policies, and car insurance policies for other drivers at your residence. For more information regarding potential insurance coverage read Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Claims.

Do take pictures of your vehicle and any injured parties whenever possible. In is not required that you take pictures of your injuries everyday, but it is important to document vehicle damage before the vehicle is repaired and any injuries you sustained before they are no longer visible or before they are healed.

Do determine if your insurance policy provides replacement coverage or depreciated/actual cash value coverage. It is important to know the difference between these two types of coverage. If your policy provides replacement coverage, you should not accept an amount only equivalent to the “actual cash value” as you many be entitled to more compensation if the cost to replace the vehicle is higher than the actual cash value of the vehicle. If you have replacement cost coverage, your insurance company may require you to replace the lost items before getting reimbursed.

Do keep all receipts of all expenses associated with the accident from the date of the accident until the date of settlement for your claim.

The Don'ts

Don't give any recorded or written statements to your insurer until you are aware of your injuries. You are not required to give the insurance company a recorded statement. If you are asked to give a recorded statement, read Giving a Recorded Statement in an Auto Accident Case and contact a personal injury attorney at Miller and Falkner.

Don't automatically accept the value your insurance company assigns through their estimate or appraisal of your losses as these estimates might be lower than the actual value of your losses. It is important to get a second opinion from a non-biased company to ensure that you receive a fair amount for your damages. You should not sign any waivers or releases of any kind until you have had them reviewed by a personal injury attorney. While it may seem necessary for you to accept their first offer, many times the first offer from the insurance company is inadequate to cover the full extent of your damages.

Don't accept and cash any check that contains the phrase "final payment" unless you do not expect any further compensation for your damages.

Don't disregard deadlines contained in your insurance policy. Most insurance policies will require a signed proof of loss within a certain time period after the accident. It is important that you comply with this requirement unless your insurance company has given you a written waiver to submit this proof of loss after the stated deadline. Many policies are written to allow only one year from the date of loss for you to bring a legal action if your claim has not been adjusted fairly. Therefore, if you are not satisfied with the settlement of your claim you must contact an attorney before this deadline or you could lose your right to sue.