Go Through Your Own Insurance
There is a wildly common misconception using your car insurance policy to repair your car increases your premium rates even if the accident wasn’t your fault. This is an absolutely incorrect belief. I want to repeat it so to remove any doubt; your rates will not go up if the accident is not your fault. This belief is not only incorrect but it severely costs you. If you have collision coverage, you have paid your insurance carrier to pay for your car damages if an accident takes place.
Think about it, if you purchase an extended warranty on your TV and it breaks down, would you try to repair your TV out of pocket or would you use the extended warranty? Car insurance should be considered as a warranty. You’ve been paying for protection and now you need your protectors’ help. Make use of the money you’ve been spending! But this agreement is a two-way agreement. If you try to take advantage by adding facts or claim prior damages are related to the accident, this is considered insurance fraud. Depending on the fraud severity and which state the fraud takes place, insurance fraud penalties typically include over $5,000 in fines and jail time.
Your insurance carrier has a vested interest making sure your claims process goes as smooth and easy as possible. Insurance carriers call you their insured, member, or shareholder. One term they don’t use but it holds true, you are one of their customers! They want to make sure your claim is stress-free. And more so, an insurance policy is a legally binding agreement. If they do not follow thru with the terms agreed upon, they can be legally liable. And because you’ve been paying your insurance carrier to protect you, they should do a better job assisting you than the other parties’ insurance carrier. Unfortunately, not all insurance carriers have good customer service in their business model.
Use The Insurance Carriers Recommended Body Shop
Nearly every car insurance carrier has a network of body shops typically called a “Direct Repair Program or Authorized Repair Facility”. Just like your health insurance, car insurance carriers have their own approved providers. They contract body shops to follow their rules and guidelines. Most importantly, your car insurance carrier will guarantee the body shop repairs as long as you own the car. So if your left fender was replaced three years ago and the paint is starting to fade, you can reopen the claim and the insurance carrier will assist on making sure the repairs are done correctly. So unless you have a trusted body shop, your easiest and best option is going through their body shop. Most carriers have multiple body shops within ten miles; use Google and Yelp to research their reviews to select the best option.
Keep A Timeline
As mentioned before, not all insurance carriers care about good customer service on claims. And even those who try typically handle claims on a team environment. Not everyone on a team environment will follow through as accountability is harder to track. Insurance carriers are mandated by your state’s Department of Insurance to follow steps by a set date. If you feel your claim has taken longer than needed, keeping track of your calls and emails is important when you speak to a supervisor. This information is important if the supervisor call doesn’t go well.
Department Of Insurance Complaints
If you have explored all avenues and are considering obtaining legal advice, file a Department of Insurance complaint. Most states now allow customers to file complaints online. If you need to file a claim, simply Google “File Department of Insurance Complaint + your state”. Providing a timeline of events on the complaint is good evidence. Insurance carriers take the Department of Insurance complaints extremely seriously. If the Department of Insurance finds any errors during the claims process, they can force the insurance carrier to assist you as you requested and add a severe fine. Any is capitalized because if they an unrelated error on your claim, it can still lead to a helpful resolution for you.
There’s no way to sugar coat it, car insurance claims are a hassle. However, try not projecting your anger onto the claims adjuster. If you start yelling and or use profanity, it’s only human nature for the claims adjuster to not want to help you. And under no circumstances should threats by made. Insurance claims adjusters are trained to contact the police if a verbal threat is made. Think about your profession, if a co-worker or customer belittles you…how often does that help? How often will you put that person on the top of your priority list? Car insurance claims take time and multiple calls. If your claim does require the Department of Insurance or legal involvement, losing your temper will be used against you by the insurance carrier. After all, your call maybe is recorded for quality and training purposes.