Step 1: Help the insurance company figure out who is at fault for the accident.
Insurance companies will try to save as much money as possible, so they will try to assign you 10% or 20% liability. It’s your job to help them figure out who is at fault.
Step 2: Figure out what kind of coverage you have.
Rental Insurance – A lot of people don’t realize that they don’t have rental insurance on their policy (which gives them a rental car while their car is being fixed). However, the other party may have rental insurance, so you’ll need to talk to their insurance company as well.
Gap Insurance – If you have a loan on your car, very often people owe more on their car than the car is worth. In the event that your car is totaled, your gap insurance can help make up the difference between what you owe and how much the car is worth.
Uninsured/Underinsured – Make sure you know exactly what all of your coverages are.
Step 3: Figure out which auto body shop you want to use to get your car fixed.
Insurance companies will tell you to use their “preferred” shop. That is typically not a very good idea. Many times, the insurance company is contracted with those shops to use aftermarket parts and certain services because again, it’s the insurance company’s job to spend as little money as possible.
It’s your right to choose which auto body shop to use. It’s best to use one that is independent and accredited. The best way to find the best mechanics is to shop around. Ask friends, family, and online reviews. A personal injury attorney will also have a very good idea of who to use since they work with auto body shops every day.
Step 4: Do NOT sign any paperwork from the insurance company.
Many times they will try to sneak in a release for your car, AND the injury portion. They are 2 completely different things. So do not sign ANY paperwork for injuries when you are resolving property damage.
If the property damage part of your case is getting complicated, you should know that it is the simplest part of a personal injury case. It is wise to speak to an attorney at that point, since they do this all day every day. Initial consultations are typically free (and they are always free with us).