The moments following a car accident can be chaotic, but the actions you take are essential in protecting your car insurance claim. First, call emergency medical services to care for any passengers or other drivers who sustained injuries. Next, start collecting information for your claim with Mercury Insurance.
Gather Information at the Scene
After you call emergency medical services (if needed), you can begin the process of filing your insurance claim. Mercury Insurance offers the option of filing a claim by phone, and the company requests that you collect as much of the following information as possible:
- The date, location, and time of the accident
- The number of the police report, name of department responding (i.e. the sheriff’s office or city police department)
- Description of the damage to all vehicles, with photos, if possible
- A description of how the accident occurred
- The makes, models, and years of all vehicles involved in the accident
- Insurance policy numbers of all motorists involved in the accident
- Names, license plate numbers, and driver’s license numbers of all drivers in the accident
- Owner of the vehicles involved, if different from the driver
- Identifiable information such as name, date of birth, and address
The more information you have, the easier it will be to follow the claims process. If the accident already occurred and you neglected to collect this information, don’t stress. You can fill in the details as you file a claim with the insurance company.
While at the accident scene, never admit fault – even if you think it was yours. Be polite to other drivers and passengers at the scene, but never apologize or insinuate that you were responsible for the injuries.
Know the Extent of Your Coverage
California law sets certain minimum requirements for all policyholders within the state. However, your coverage may exceed the minimum. For example, you may have rental reimbursement coverage, which will provide a rental car for transportation while your vehicle is in the shop. Read the terms of your policy to learn more about coverage limits before renting a car.
Most insurance policies also require a deductible before your insurance company will kick in to pay for repairs. The amount of your deductible may range from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the terms of your policy. You must meet your deductible before your insurance company will compensate for any damages. If, for example, you incurred $1,500 in damages in collision following an accident and your deductible is $500, insurance will likely offer to pay $1,000.
Observe All Requests for Documentation and Follow Deadlines
Mercury Insurance, like many other insurance companies, often requires additional documentation to investigate and complete the claims process. Observing all these instructions is essential to completing your claim. If you neglect to provide requested documentation within a set deadline, it could lead to a denial of coverage – even if you only miss it by a day or two.
In certain situations, however, it may be beneficial to wait instead of providing documentation right away. A common example is a request for release of medical records. A claims adjuster might ask you to sign a release to view your medical records to evaluate a claim, but it’s best to wait until your health care provider records the full extent of your injuries before consenting.
In car accidents involving extensive property damage or injury, consider hiring a Bakersfield car accident lawyer to help you with the claims process. He or she will serve as your advocate and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to attain fair compensation for the full value of your car accident claim.