As per official records, India was the sixth largest motor vehicle/car manufacturer in the world in 2013, with the total turnover of the auto manufacturers amounting to US $67 Billion. In fact, in 2014-15, Indian auto manufacturers produced a record-breaking 23.4 million motor vehicles including 3.22 Million passenger vehicles.
Another dubiously noteworthy statistic is that in 2014-15, Indian roads claimed over 16 lives every hour on an average, given that more than 1.41 lakh people died in road accidents. This is an approximate 3% hike over the number of fatalities in 2013-14. This is more than sufficient proof that we court the danger of being involved in an accident whenever we are on the road; either driving or being driven.
Insurance Claims – and know how to file them correctly
While vehicle insurance is our safety net in this grim scenario, how to file a compelling insurance claim is another knowledge we should keep ready in our arsenal in order to be fully prepared for such eventualities.
Following is a cheat sheet of the most important dos and don’ts with regard to filing a car insurance claim. Pay attention, for then claiming car insurance will never be simpler.
What to DO while filing a car insurance claim-
First thing to do following an accident is to call the police. That is the correct thing to do legally, and the FIR is a mandatory document that will support your insurance claim.
Always inform your insurance company or broker as soon as an accident or loss takes place, or with minimum delay. Most companies have a window of 48 hours from the time the accident occurred to be notified. Respect the rules and call the company or broker at the first opportunity.
At the scene of the accident, try to take photographs of the damage to your car, your injuries, the other party, the accident, etc. Photographic evidence is one great way of capturing the incident in all its vivid details for revisiting in the future. Never forget to note down the names and numbers of any witnesses who are willing to help prove your insurance claim. Remember to take down the insurance details of the other parties involved in the accident as well.
After informing the insurance company, you may want to reread your insurance coverage policy document and try to clearly understand what is covered and what is excluded from the insurance coverage, in particular. You may want to call the helpline for further guidance or visit their website too.
Be honest and prompt at all times with the insurance company. Never hide details that may later show you in a poor light. Always bear in mind that failing to disclose the truth can work against you, as it may invalidate your policy or may even cause your claim to be rejected.
It is advisable to keep detailed notes of all conversations with the insurance company representatives, along with names, job titles of people you speak with, for future reference.
From the time of the accident until the final settlement, save all receipts (such as of meals, lodging, and purchases made) with regard to pursuing your claim or recovering from your injuries. The best way to do this is to maintain a file and keep all these documents in it.
Consult your attorney as s/he will protect your rights and ensure that no valuable evidences are destroyed.
Other than the above pointers, always maintain a valid driving license and an insurance policy copy.
What to NOT DO when filing a car insurance claim-
DO NOT run away from the scene of the accident even, and especially, if you are at fault. Do not move your car or the others’ from the scene. Check if medical aid is required and arrange for it.
DO NOT avoid informing the police. If the other involved parties try to arrange a settlement with you without informing the police, this is an illegal turn of events that you must avoid being party to. Remember that the FIR will help in filing your insurance claim, so never skip this all-important step.
DO NOT lose control. It is natural to get stressed under these circumstances and end up being aggressive and angry or being submissive and accepting the blame and legal liability of the accident. DO NEITHER. Politely enquire if the other parties are alright and dial 100 to call the police.
Also importantly, DO NOT drive under the influence of alcohol or other consumables, or indulge in malicious, illegal driving. Avoid employing your passenger car for commercial use. Remember in the event of an accident, these actions will disqualify your insurance claim.
DO NOT ignore post-accident formalities or the time limits within which to file them. Collect all the necessary documents from all quarters and file a convincing car accident claim as promptly and correctly as possible.
DO NOT give anything in writing to the insurance company before you have had a chance to review your policy. Do NOT sign any releases until you obtain legal advice or believe that the first estimated value provided by the company is the ultimate.
Finally, DO NOT accept any check that says ‘final payment’ unless you are ready to do so.
In conclusion, the most crucial thing for anybody looking to file an insurance claim is to follow the law, keep a clear head, be honest, collect evidence and keep your insurance firm in the loop. If you follow these cardinal rules, then it’s unlikely that your car insurance claim will ever be rejected.