Q What should I tell my own insurance company after an accident?
Did you know that your insurance policy imposes a duty on you to cooperate with your own insurance company? It does! That means you have to give them full and honest information about any accident. Many times, my clients are hesitant to inform their own insurance about an accident, saying "It will drive up my rates!" or "I can rely on the other guy's insurance." NOT TRUE!
In most cases, it is perfectly safe to talk to your own insurance company after an accident.
BUT, you can't be sure when it is not safe to talk to them alone and without a lawyer. So always contact a lawyer before calling the insurance company.
If there is any chance that YOU could be blamed for the accident, CALL YOUR OWN INSURANCE RIGHT AWAY.
If you don't, you could jeopardize the liability insurance coverage you need to hire a free lawyer to defend you against the other party's personal injury claims. Would you throw away an offer of a free lawyer to defend you? Of course not. The problem is that you have to inform your insurance to get the free lawyer. So, if the police gave you a ticket, or if you have a two-vehicle collision and the question is who had the green light, call your own insurance company right away. 90% of the time, the other driver will claim he had the green light, making it appear that you were at fault.
If the car you were in was driven by someone else, especially if it is your car, call a lawyer first.
Then, let a lawyer set up a call to your own insurance. Why? Because your insurance will be in an adversary position on your personal injury claim, as they will be paying on behalf of your driver for his fault in causing the accident. So your insurance will try to prove it was a) not his fault or b) you weren't hurt.
The Types of Adjusters with Your Insurance Company
Insurance companies have separate specialized adjusters who handle property damage issues, who are in different departments of the company from the adjusters who handle personal injury claims. It is okay to discuss your car damage with those property damage adjusters. The property damage adjusters never require recorded or written statements from you about how the accident happened. If you are asked about how the accident happened, then you are likely talking to a personal injury adjuster. Property damage adjusters are assigned the job of getting the car out of storage, paying towing bills, and authorizing repairs at the repair shop of your choice. In those cases, your insurance company will need to discuss the accident to help resolve the damages to your car.
When Not to Talk to Your Insurance Company
In some cases, it is not advisable to discuss your case with your own insurance company. Those cases generally involve uninsured motorist claims. When the person who caused the accident has no insurance, then you have to look to your own policy that provides uninsured motorist coverage to compensate you for the injury claim. In those cases, your own insurance company takes an adversary position to try and minimize the payments it will have to make to you in compensation for your injuries.
In our experience, uninsured motorist adjusters always value your case lower than a liability adjuster for the other driver's insurance company. We believe that is because, in those cases, the insurance company wrongly believes that you are not entitled to as much money from an uninsured claim as compared to a liability insurance claim against the other driver's insurer. They are wrong about that! Your claim will have nothing to do with whose insurance is paying the final settlement or verdict. Instead, you will get an award based on your injuries, not based on whose insurer is paying the bill.
Because your own insurance has a vested interest in reducing your uninsured motorist injury claim, you should never discuss the facts of the accident or your injuries with the UM adjuster. Instead, let your attorney discuss the claim and provide the evidence needed to prove your case. It will protect you from a potentially costly reduction in the value of your case.