When you’re hurt in a car accident, it can be confusing to understand what your next steps should be. How are you going to pay for your medical bills? When can you return to work? What about your vehicle?
In a perfect world, your auto insurance provider would take care of everything. After all, that’s why you send them a payment every month, right? The unfortunate fact is that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Their goal is to settle claims as quickly and for as little as possible.
Understanding where your insurance provider is coming from is crucial to guiding your conversation with their representatives. You don’t want to say too much. Doing so could harm any potential personal injury claims you may have. However, stonewalling the company isn’t always the best course of action either. With that in mind, here are some of the dos and don’ts of speaking with insurance companies after a motor vehicle accident.
How to handle your initial conversations
Your insurance company will want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. They may contact you while you are still in the hospital. When your insurance provider first reaches out to you, you should:
- Remain polite: You may be in pain. You are likely frustrated. Regardless, you should try and put your feelings aside when speaking with your insurance representative. Keep in mind that they have a job to do. Getting angry could make things more difficult going forward.
- Just the basics: Don’t launch into a detailed explanation of what happened. Any information you provide should be kept to a minimum. Name, address, and telephone number are okay. Anything else you volunteer should be run by a legal professional first.
- Keep a record: If you’re able, write down everything that’s said during your conversation. If you’re injuries prevent you from doing so, have someone else transcribe what you spoke about as quickly as possible following the call. This type of record can be invaluable going forward.
Some things you should avoid talking about in your initial contact with insurance providers include:
- Details of the accident: You will always want to avoid telling an insurance representative what happened and why you believe the accident occurred. You should discuss divulging any details with an attorney before doing so.
- Your injuries: You will probably want your medical bills addressed as soon as possible. However, like the accident itself, you’ll want to avoid going into too much detail. An insurance company may be willing to address the immediate expenses following your accident. However, if your injuries cause problems in the future, your insurance provider isn’t going to revisit your case.
- Accepting a settlement: As soon as you agree to a settlement, your case is all but over. You may only receive a fraction of what your case is worth, and you could find yourself facing unforeseen financial troubles in the months or years to come.
It’s always in your best interest to seek legal advice following a car accident. An attorney understands how to negotiate with insurance companies and knows the value of your claim. Never volunteer more than what is asked of you. Even then, it’s best to rely on legal counsel before you say anything to an insurance representative.