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First steps before making a claim

First steps before making a claim

Almost all drivers are confident they will not get into a traffic accident or, if they do, it will not be their fault. No matter how realistic this self-assessment, most never read the small print of their auto insurance policy. Why bother if you are never going to need it. In general terms, they know there is cover against third party liabilities, and comprehensive and collision. But all the other "stuff". . . How come something as simple as insurance needs all this writing? Well, all this writing is going to make a big difference to what you can claim if there's an accident.

So picture a nightmare. You car may be totaled. Let us hope you had towing cover in your policy so your car is now sitting somewhere safe while the damage is assessed and decisions are taken. Perhaps you are injured and not feeling in the mood to start reading the policy. You claim everything you think is covered and the insurer says, "No!"to some or all of it.

It’s no good being wise after the event. Before you buy the policy, you should read it through to see exactly what is covered and what conditions you have to meet to claim. If there is anything you do not understand, you should ask. When someone wants to sell you a product, they are nice to you. They take the time to explain things. You are not asking them to change the policy, simply aiming to understand exactly what to do if you get in an accident. When you are making a claim, it is not in their interests to explain how you can make a bigger claim.

If the worst has happened, do not claim blindly, hoping you are doing it right. Check the policy through again before you make the claim. If in doubt, ask for help. Check out the website of your state's insurance department or commissioner. Most sites explain your rights and offer advice on how to get a fair settlement. If you make the claim in proper form with all the right information along with it, this reduces delays in settlement.

Your first priority will be to put new wheels on the road. Did you opt for rental car coverage? If you did, you can keep moving while you put your life back together again. But check with the insurance company before you rent. Confirm the amount you can spend. Be prepared to accept a smaller, lower status car to fill in. More importantly, find out what insurance cover you have while driving the rented car. If the rental company's insurance is weak and your current policy does not give you adequate medical and collision cover in the rented car, buy additional cover. This is not the time to take additional risks. If you have no rental car coverage, find out about public transport. Friends and neighbors grow unhappy fast if they are asked to drive you around for more than a day or two.