California is a fault state when it comes to car accidents, meaning the injured party must prove the other party’s fault before that person’s insurance will cover damages. After many car accidents in California, injured parties will submit claims to insurance companies other than their own. This might be the case, for example, if the other party caused the crash. Filing a claim with an insurer other than one’s own is a “third-party claim.” It is a common type of claim that leads to a slightly different insurance process.
The Third-Party Claims Process
When you’re involved in a car accident in California, your first instinct may be to call your own insurance company to report the crash. If you weren’t at fault for the accident, however, you should first contact the insurance company of the at-fault driver or other individual or entity. This is why it’s important to always stop and collect the information of the other driver after an accident. The other driver may not have admitted fault at the scene, but, if you believe he or she is to blame, contact the driver’s insurer before contacting your own.
Report the accident to the other driver’s insurer. Stick purely to the facts of the case, and give short answers to the representative’s questions. The insurance agent assigned to your case, known as the claims adjuster, will have the goal of getting you to settle for as little as possible. The adjuster may offer a settlement within the first one or two phone calls if the other driver was at fault. Resist the urge to accept these offers. First, talk to a Bakersfield car accident attorney about the real value of your car accident claim.
When you make a third-party insurance claim, the company will try to save money by offering a low-ball settlement award. The company may tempt you to take the settlement, saying that it’s a fast way to get your hands on the money. However, your injuries and property damage could garner a much greater verdict or award in a personal injury claim. It’s typically wise to reject at least the first offer but talk to your attorney first. A car insurance lawyer can help you choose the best path for your unique wishes, and negotiate with a third-party insurer.
Tips for Third-Party Insurance Claims
Be wary when talking to insurance adjusters over the phone. The insurance claims adjuster works for the company, not for you. An adjuster often sees several cases per month. He or she will likely know less about your claim than you do. Keep your answers short when conversing with the other driver’s insurance company. Stay truthful, but do not offer up information that the adjuster does not request.
Do not agree to record any statements over the phone. The insurance company can use what you say against you. Talk to a lawyer if you have any doubts about dealing with insurance claims adjusters. If the other driver’s insurance company denies your claim, you can begin the appeals process. Study the policy in question to learn how to appeal the company’s decision. The appeals process can be complex and often comes down to something in the policy that bars you from recovery in certain scenarios. Retaining an insurance attorney can help you navigate these issues.