by: Ed Sneineh

Being in an automobile accident can be a distressing experience. The last thing you want to happen to you is to extend this distress to the  time when you start dealing and managing your auto claim.  These are certain things that you need to worry about to normalize the claim process:

1. Understand your auto policy. Reading and understanding your policy will permit you to obtain several of your subjects addressed in an accurate manner. It also will put you in an advanced stage to deal with issues & things that can potentially happen to your claim. Like someone suggested before ' understanding the policy is half way in getting your claim paid in timely manner.'

2. Immediately notify your company of the accident. If you have an independent broker make sure you also report it to your agent and company. Failure to report the incident in appropriate way may lead to interruption in processing your claim.

3. If your claim includes physical damage claim, make sure to correspond with the claim department of your company in an organized style. Make sure to document your calls with time and date and name of the person you talked to. Respond to their inquires by faxes and email which can be little more effective than verbal correspondence because you have the proof with date and time that you responded to the company's examination.

4. The insurance company is mandated by law to correspond with you within specific time period (21 days after you file the loss). However, you need to watch for the points which your insurance company is asking you to address. Under policy terms, you are required to perform certain tasks and duties such as providing certain documents to authenticate your claim. These documents could consist of sworn statements of loss telling the date, time and events of the loss; reason of using the auto  at the time of the loss, police crash report, medical bills, title and bill of sale. The auto insurance company also has the right to scrutinize certain documents under oath. Lack of performance of these tasks in timely manner may result in delaying or even rejecting your claim.

5. Bear in mind the following as you file for your comprehensive and collision claim: Your insurance company may ask you to provide pictures and repair estimates, and may ask you to go to one of their elected facilities to get more estimates. If your company agrees to restore your automobile  you have the right to fix it at any store of your option, but you may not  force the insurance company to agree to the charges of your store, and your repair shop has to agree to the reasonable charges presented by the insurance company. The company can also fine-tune the claim sum for any abnormal high mileage or previous damage on the automobile. If your auto was confirmed total damage by your insurance company then the company will reimburse the fair market worth, minus the appropriate deductible. If there is a loan note on the auto your company is not compelled to pay the amount of note.

6. If your auto was total damage the insurance company may propose to you a cash payment or a replacement auto. The replacement auto must be acquired from a registered car dealer, with similar or better year, make & model; same or better options and physical conditions.  Insurance companies are not permitted by law to sell back the auto to you, unless the total damaged auto is 9 years or older; or the damage was hail/ wind related- ie the mechanics of the vehicle was unaffected. If you accept the cash settlement and later you boughtanotherauto the insurance company may be required  to pay you the pertinent sales taxes and title transfer if the deal takes place in 30 days of the cash settlement date.

In some situations you might not be in agreement with what your insurance company is presenting you in settlement offer. The insurance policy contains provisions about  such disputes, including submitting the case for  appraisal. In such a case you will appoint your own appraiser, on your own expense, who will deal with the insurance company's appraiser. If both failed to agree, the case would be sent to an 'umpire 'whose decision is normally final.

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Ed Sneineh, insurance professional for over 20 years, former college educator of insurance, and founder of Insurance Navy, a leader in providing <A href="http://www.insurancenavy.com">auto insurance quotes, Chicago</a>. Visit our website and get your <a href="http://www.insurancenavy.com/get_a_quote/default.aspx">car, SR22 insurance quotes</a> in 5 minutes or less. Insurance Navy represents major carriers such as AAA, Travelers, Progressive, Hartford, and more than 20 other carriers.
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