After you leave the scene of an accident, making a claim and dealing with insurance companies can be daunting, confusing, and scary. You want to make sure that you are doing the right thing and receiving proper compensation for your property damage and injuries.
- Understanding the Different Kinds of Automobile Insurance
When you are involved in a car accident, it is important to understand the different kinds of insurance coverages that are available to you. When discussed below, it is assumed that “you” were not at fault for the accident.
There are two different kinds of property coverage that you or the other driver can have. The first type is liability property damage only, meaning the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay for your vehicle damage, but the insurance company will not pay for the at-fault party’s vehicle damage. The second is collision coverage which pays for a vehicle to be repaired after an accident, regardless of who caused the accident. We suggest that if you cannot afford to replace or repair your car, then you maintain collision coverage.
Bodily injury coverage is an amount of money that the at-fault party’s insurance company will pay to the you for the injuries you sustained in the collision, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The minimum bodily injury coverage in Colorado is $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. We recommend that people have higher limits than the state minimums to protect themselves and others in the event of tragedy.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM)
UM/UIM coverage is an amount of money that your insurance company will pay you if the at-fault driver is either uninsured or underinsured. Underinsured is where the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage is insufficient to pay for your injuries and damages incurred as a result of the collision. This coverage is important as it protects you and your passengers. The minimum UM/UIM coverage in Colorado is $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. We recommend that people have higher limits than the state minimums to protect themselves and others in the event of tragedy.
- Medical Benefits/Pay (Med Pay)
Med pay is money that you can receive from your insurance company to assist you with paying for medical bills incurred because of the accident, regardless of who is at fault for the collision. This is a good way to receive treatment that may not be covered by health insurance, such as chiropractic care. The minimum med pay coverage in Colorado is $5,000 per person, but can be waived in writing. We recommend that people at least have the $5,000 state minimum or the amount necessary to cover their health insurance deductible.
- Making a Claim & Recorded Statement
Shortly after the accident, you will need to call both your insurance company and the at-fault party’s insurance company and open a claim. In this process, you will be asked numerous questions about the accident and what happened. The information that you will want to have when making the claim is fully detailed in “I WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT, NOW WHAT? PART 1: What to do at the scene of an accident.”
Additionally, insurance companies will often ask for a recorded statement. It is often best to speak with an attorney prior to making your recorded statement. During this call, you will be asked many of the same questions you were asked when opening your claim. Make sure you are clear on your version of what happened in the accident. They will ask you about property damage and where your car is at. They will also ask you about any injuries or medical treatment. DO NOT MINIMIZE YOUR INJURIES. Often times, people who are in car accidents do not know the extent of their pain and injuries until hours or days after the accident. If you are unsure if you were hurt, do not state that you are fine, it is okay to say “I don’t know the extent of my injuries right now.”
- Property Damage
When dealing with your property damage and repairs, you can go through either your insurance company or the at-fault party’s insurance company to pay for the same. If you go through your insurance company, you will still have to pay your deductible. Your insurance company will then seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurance company. If your car is repairable, then the insurance company of your choice will pay for the repairs. If your car is totaled, you can negotiate the payout price. Make sure that you look at their description of your vehicle and ensure that all of the information on there is correct and accurate.
- Be Wary of Early Settlement
Be cautious if you are offered a settlement from an insurance company. Some injuries do not show up until days later, and the extent of your injuries and treatment needs may not be known for months or years after the collision. Do not settle your claim until you know that you will be compensated for all your injuries. Once you have settled with the insurance company, you cannot go back and get more money if you discover that you are more injured or need more treatment than what you settled for.
- Consider Consulting with or Hiring Attorney
It can be daunting when you are suffering from an injury after an accident and having to talk to and navigate the various insurance companies. Here at Shapiro Winthers P.C., our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the world of insurance. We understand how to talk with and negotiate with the insurance companies to ensure that you are treated fairly, that your side of the story is told, and to maximize your recovery.