posted on November 29, 2018
At Marks & Harrison, our car accident attorneys tell our clients that they should avoid talking with the other driver’s insurance company. The reason: Insurance companies are out to protect their profits – not your interests. So, when they call you after a crash, you can safely bet that they are looking to make a settlement offer that is far below what your claim is actually worth or hunting for information that they can use against you. You are usually better off if you simply decline to speak with the insurance company and refer the company to your lawyer.
Talking with your own insurance company is a different matter. Generally speaking, you should call your insurance company after an auto accident. Your policy likely requires you to report your accident (and possibly within a certain time period). Also, by complying with your insurance policy’s reporting requirement, you can preserve your right to file a claim with your insurance company down the road if it is necessary.
Typically, if another person’s negligence causes your car accident in Virginia, that person’s auto liability insurance will serve as your primary source of compensation. As the Virginia Bureau of Insurance (VBI) Auto Insurance Consumer’s Guide explains, state law requires drivers who register their vehicles in this state to carry liability policy in the following minimum amounts (or else they must pay an uninsured motorist vehicle fee):
However, in some situations, you may need to file a claim with your own insurance company. Those types of claims include:
For this reason, you should not hesitate to report your accident to your insurance company. Down the road, you may file one or more of the above claims with your insurance company. According to the VBI, after you inform the insurer of your claim, the company should send you any forms you need to fill out, verify your claim and pay your claim “promptly” after it receives “adequate proof of loss.” If the insurer denies your claim in whole or part, the insurer owes you an explanation.
Unlike the other driver’s insurance company, you may believe that your own insurer will be “on your side.” However, in reality, insurers often drag their feet on paying claims or fail to pay what a crash victim deserves. If this happens to you, you should immediately get help from an experienced car accident attorney.
The process of filing an auto accident claim with your insurance company should be a smooth process. As stated above, the insurer should send you forms or provide a way for you to file your claim online. You should be prepared to provide information such as:
After you file a claim, an insurance adjuster will likely contact you. If you talk with the adjuster, you should:
Generally, the sooner you contact a lawyer, the better off you will be when you deal with insurance companies. A lawyer from Marks & Harrison, for instance, can handle all communication with both your own insurance company and the other driver’s insurer. If the insurer makes a settlement offer, your attorney can present the offer to you and advise you on whether it meets your objectives. While your lawyer deals with the insurance company, you can focus on what is important: Your physical and mental health and your family.
Remember: You have no obligation to talk to the other driver’s insurer or lawyer. If they contact you, you can simply refer them to your attorney.
Insurance company representatives will inevitably work to protect their own interests by minimizing the amounts paid out in car accident claims or rejecting claims altogether. If you have a Marks & Harrison car accident lawyer on your side, however, you will have a dedicated legal advocate to protect your rights and fight to obtain maximum compensation for your losses. Contact our Virginia automobile accident attorneys today for a free, no-obligation and confidential consultation about pursuing an insurance claim after an accident. Our firm can review your case through any one of our 10 offices located throughout the state.
Ryan T. Walker joined Marks & Harrison in 2014 after working for GEICO on the defense side of personal injury cases. A graduate of Virginia Military Institute and the Florida State University College of Law, Ryan has practiced exclusively in the area of civil litigation throughout his legal career, with an emphasis on personal injury law. He has vast experience in automobile accident litigation. In addition to being licensed to practice in all of Virginia’s state courts, Ryan is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia.