Oh no! The worst has happened, and you had a loss! Now what?
First, make sure everyone is okay and call whatever authorities need to be involved.
Next, call your insurance agent!
Your agent will be able to walk you through all the steps to make this unfortunate time as easy as possible. First, they will help connect you to the claims department to give your initial statements and information recalling the events. It’s best to make sure this happens as quickly as possible, so you are clear on what just happened. Waiting periods of time after the accident can fog memory or dilute details that might be important to the claims process. The agent should inquire if you have any questions about your coverage, feel free to ask them at this time; your agent will be more than happy to explain anything you are unclear on.
From there, the claim will be reported to the insurance company and get the process started. Within 2-5 business days of the claim filing, you should be contacted by a claims adjuster to schedule a meeting to view the damaged property. In the meantime, keep all receipts from any necessary towing, rentals, etc. The adjuster will most likely collect these (or copies) to make sure you are reimbursed if your coverage allows.
The agency / your agent will be vital to the success of the claim to make sure you can properly negotiate payouts and make sure that you are being treated fairly. Most insurance companies are good but remember they have their own representation too that helps them remain profitable. It’s always best to have someone in your corner to argue values, understand the claims process, and work directly with those who are assigning values to your damages to make sure you get treated fairly and that claims go smoothly.
Additionally, it’s best to have an independent agency or agent. If you have a captive agent (State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, etc.) you are dealing directly with your agent who is also a representative of the carrier. Their contractual obligation to the carrier is to do what is best for them at all times in production and in claims. It might be hard for them to get the best deal for you but also the best deal for their carrier. Much like it would be hard for a real estate agent to get the lowest price for a buyer but also the highest price for the seller if they represent both sides.
Being independent means the agency/agent can act in your best interest at all times. The carrier contracts that an independent agent has do not require them to treat the carrier in any way aside from the moral and ethical obligations of the agency/agent’s license requirements. This requires them to be honest with the carrier and not misrepresent facts, but it does not require them to convince you that a low payout offer from the carrier is fair or represents the carrier in any way. This allows the independent agent to fight for higher payouts on each claim and look out for your best interest. It also might mean your agent suggests that you seek out legal representation where necessary which some might find uncommon in the insurance world. In a claim, however, an independent agent represents the client fully and is there to serve the client’s best interest, so the client doesn’t have to handle the legal jargon and insurance terminology alone.
Have you ever had a claim go wrong? Drop a comment below and tell us about your experience!