Having an auto accident is, at best, inconvenient. At the worst, an accident is catastrophic, not only physically, but emotionally as well. Understanding the auto insurance claims process can help to alleviate the stress and disruption an accident can incur on your life.
Understanding Your Role in the Process
It is your job, as a responsible vehicle owner, to carry adequate coverage, and to report your involvement in any accident when it occurs, no matter who was at fault. Unless you have a social connection with the insurance agent who sold you your coverage, it is highly likely that your insurance company will know of your involvement in an accident until you inform them. Having open, honest communication with your auto insurance company is the key to getting your car or truck back on the road as quickly and as efficiently as possible, so be sure to inform them as soon as possible after an accident occurs.
Understanding Various Types of Coverage
Insurance companies that offer auto insurance coverage take many variables into consideration when offering coverage and setting premiums. Those variables could include everything from the value of your vehicle, to the age of the driver that is taking out the policy. Some offer discounts for students who maintain good grades, some offer discounts if your vehicle is kept in the garage when not in use.
If you are put in the position of having to file a claim, it is in your best interest to understand your coverage. While most consumers automatically think that auto insurance claims cover simply the cost to repair or replace a car, the truth is that insurance goes much deeper than that.
For example, if you are involved in an accident, and it is determined that you were at fault, not only would your insurance cover your own damages, but your insurance company might pay out to cover the damage to the other vehicle. Liability coverage will cover any personal injuries that occur to either involved, and is required under Florida law. If the accident was caused by a driver’s negligence, such as texting while driving, and a lawsuit ensues, you policy may cover any legal fees, and might also cover lost wages or lost earning capacity for those involved.
Most states require some type of liability insurance, and Florida is no exception. The mandatory coverage required by the state of Florida is very low, which is great when you are considering the affect the coverage will have on your premiums. The downside of this low coverage limit is that if you are involved in an accident, your coverage may not be enough to cover all the legal damages. Knowing exactly what your policy covers, including the limits of your liability insurance will help you as you try to navigate the claims process, so be sure you understand what is and what is not going to be covered before you purchase your policy. If you are unsure of the sufficiency of your coverage, or would like to know more about increasing your coverage beyond what is legally required in our state, contact us, and one of our agents will be happy to explain the details of your policy to you.
Be Prepared to Pay Your Deductible
When dealing with most auto insurance policies, the deductible could be anywhere from $500 to $1000, depending on the coverage you have selected. In some cases, consumers opt for a higher deductible because the high deductible generally lowers a driver’s monthly premium. Keep in mind that if you choose the higher deductible, you should be prepared financially to be able to scrape together that kind of cash if an accident occurs. For a vehicle owner that lives paycheck to paycheck, it may be in your best interest to set the deductible amount aside in a separate savings account so as to be prepared.
Accidents often take us by surprise, occurring when we least expect them. Don’t be caught off guard. By learning all you can about your insurance coverage and the claims process, you can eliminate the harsh reality of being caught unprepared. Check out our article How Teen Drivers Ways to Avoid Auto Insurance Claims.
Robert Macoviak is the President of Oyer, Macoviak and Associates. Oyer, Macoviak and Associates is the oldest independent insurance agency in Boynton Beach and has been in business since 1953. Oyer, Macoviak and Associates are vested members of the community who are committed to doing business face-to-face and being your insurance advocate in times of need.