In general, you should aim to communicate through your own insurance provider
If the other party’s insurance contacts you, ask your own provider whether it’s advisable to give them a statement
If you’re filing a third party claim, however, you’ll go directly through the other party’s insurance
Getting into a car accident can be a scary experience — even if no one is seriously injured, it can leave you feeling shaken up. And then after the accident, you have to go through the hassle of filing a claim, either with your insurance or with the other party’s. Dealing with insurance providers can seem overwhelming, but remember, the reason you have insurance in the first place is to cover situations like this.
After you’ve followed all the most important initial steps after an accident, you’ll start the claims process. If it’s not immediately clear who was at fault in the accident, or if you were the at-fault driver, you should aim to do most of the communicating with your own insurance provider.
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There may be situations in which the other party’s insurance company contacts you to ask you some questions about the accident — but in general, it’s best to keep your communication with the other driver’s insurance as limited and straightforward as possible. However, if the other driver was clearly at fault, you can go ahead and file a claim directly with the other party’s insurance. This is what’s called a third-party claim.
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If you’ve just been in a car accident, don’t panic. Following these simple steps will help you stay safe and begin the claims process.
Get to safety. Evaluate the scene, and check yourself and any passengers for injuries. If it’s possible, move your car away from the flow of traffic and turn on your hazards or light road flares. Exit your vehicle and wait for help — whatever you do, don’t leave the scene of the accident.
Call 911. Even if no one appears hurt, you should still call 911. First responders will evaluate everyone’s condition, and you’ll need the resulting police report when you file a claim.
Collect information. Gather all the info you can, including everyone’s names and contact information, the license plate numbers, and insurance provider names and policy numbers.
Document the accident. Take photos of any damage to cars or other property, diagram the accident and photograph the location of the accident.
File a claim. You’ll want to start the claims process as soon t as possible. You can likely file a claim online, through a mobile app or over the phone. You’ll be assigned a claims adjuster, whose job it is to investigate the accident and determine what your insurer will cover.
When you file a claim, your insurance adjuster will begin looking into the accident to determine who was at fault and what damage will be covered. The other party’s insurance may be doing the same thing, and it’s possible that the other driver’s provider will reach out to you and ask for a recorded statement. In general, it’s best to go through your own provider as much as possible and avoid speaking with the other party’s insurance unless your own provider advises it.
In the event that your insurer advises you to go ahead and speak with the other party’s insurance, keep your statement brief and stick to the facts, don’t speculate about who was at fault or about any of the other circumstances of the accident.
You may also want to consider hiring a lawyer and speaking to the other party’s insurance through your legal representation. This can give you an advocate in the process.
If your car or property is damaged by another driver and they’re at fault, you’ll need to file what’s called a third-party claim. This requires working directly with the other party’s insurance. Before you file a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance, you’ll want to have any relevant information at the ready, much like you would if you were filing a claim through your own insurance. Make sure you have:
The other driver’s full name and insurance policy number.
A copy of the police report about the accident.
Any photos you took of damage to your vehicle and the scene of the accident.
Records of any injuries you or your passengers sustained, including medical bills, doctor contact information, dates and times of appointments, and X-rays.
It’s standard to file a third-party claim with the other party’s insurer, but you can still contact your own insurance company and let them know that you’re going through the process. They should be able to answer any questions you have and let you know what you should be expecting from the other insurer.
Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius, where she has been since 2018. An expert in home, auto and renters insurance, she loves making tough concepts easy to understand and helping readers feel confident about their insurance options. Before joining Policygenius, she was a senior staff writer at Mic. Her work has appeared in The Dodo, AOL, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.
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