A car accident may be over quickly, but the aftermath can drag on for months. When all you want to do is move on, it’s in your best interest to understand the insurance claim process and the steps you need to take.
Though the process may not be enjoyable, you can save time and money by approaching it properly, whether or not you’re at fault.
Remember that, when the worst does happen, you’re not by yourself. From the moment a collision occurs to making the claim on time, here are the steps you should take to leave the incident with minimum impact to you.
Step 1: Immediately Following the Accident
Traffic accidents can distress you mentally and physically – and there’ll be a lot running through your mind at this time. Emotions will naturally run high, but it’s important to try to stay calm and avoid laying the blame.
The first thing to do is to consider calling the police, if they haven’t already been contacted. You’re legally required to do this if there’s been property damage; cars, street signs or something else, or if any person is injured as a result of the accident. You should also call them if there’s a need for traffic to be redirected or you suspect drugs or alcohol are involved. You’ll be administered with a Police Event Number to support your claim.
While you probably want to leave the scene quickly, especially if you’re feeling distressed, stick around to take photos and get the contact details of anyone else involved. Draw diagrams and write down any other relevant details, like the time, address, and traffic and weather conditions.
Gather as much information as you can, because lots of it will fade from your memory when you need it later on.
Step 2: Making a Car Insurance Claim
Hopefully, by now, the feeling of shock has subsided and you can take the next necessary steps to getting back on the road and putting the ordeal behind you.
If you’re insured, you can choose whether or not you want to claim against your insurance. If you do make a claim and you’re at fault, just remember that you may lose your no-claims bonus and be charged an excess.
Consider your options and if the damage is going to cost less than your excess, avoid making a claim. Your insurance company can help you make the right decision, taking into account whether or not the other party is insured.
You’ll receive forms about the car accident, which will ask you to draw diagrams of what happened at the scene. Consult the diagram you put together immediately after the collision for accuracy.
Step 3: Shop Around for Repairs
Don’t accept the first quote you receive from a mechanic, because another one out there can probably beat it.
In extreme cases, the repair cost may be higher than the replacement cost, and your vehicle will have to be written off. Get a report on the value of your vehicle before the crash from your insurer or an organisation like RACV.
You may be able to claim compensation on other things you might not have thought of, like towing fees and damage of any possessions that were in the vehicle.
Step 4: Write a Letter to the Other Party
If you feel the other party was to blame for the accident, send a letter of demand to request they cover the incurred costs.
Attach a copy of your quote and give them a time frame in which to respond. If you receive a letter of demand and you disagree with the claims, send a response that includes counter-quotes you’ve obtained.
Step 5: Be Aware of Time Limits
Most people want to finalise car insurance claims as soon as possible – it’s not something you want hanging over your head.
Be aware that time limits apply to things like your Police Event Number, and speak to a lawyer if you think people are delaying the process.
When it comes to your medical assessment, don’t waste any time. Making a timely appointment will work in your favour when you need to make a claim. When you’ve been involved in a car accident in Melbourne and across Victoria, u-Law is a mobile TAC lawyer that can help you get everything you’re entitled to.