I’ve been in a couple of auto accidents. It’s always a nerve-wracking experience, whether it’s your fault or not. Eventually, you are likely to be in an accident, whether you make a mistake, or whether you are affected by someone else’s mistake.
When you are involved in an accident, you will eventually want to contact your insurance agent. However, it’s important that you don’t simply get out the phone and start babbling incoherently about your ordeal. First, make sure that any injuries are treated. Then, calm down and think through the situation. You obviously don’t want to lie to the insurance agent, or do anything illegal. But you do need to be careful about what you say.
Here are 5 things to avoid saying to your auto insurance agent:
1. It’s My Fault
Fault is something someone else decides – usually the officer on the scene with the issuance of a ticket. Don’t claim fault. And, don’t claim fault to the driver of the other vehicle, or to the law enforcement officer. When the dust settles, the fault may be equally someone else’s, or not actually yours at all. Admitting fault can be used against you later.
2. I’m Just Fine
Don’t say that you’re not hurt. Realize that some problems only appear a few days later. Bruising may not happen immediately, and whiplash isn’t always present immediately after. Avoid signing a medical release form from any insurance company (your own or the other driver’s) until you have ascertained that you really aren’t hurt.
3. I Guess, or I Think
Don’t estimate. Don’t guess. Only share the facts you are sure of. You can’t really know how close you were to the other car unless you actually measured. Unless you were staring at the speedometer as you crashed, you don’t actually know how fast you were going. Investigators can make those determinations; you don’t need to estimate. Don’t answer those questions unless you are certain. Otherwise, I’m not sure, or I don’t know, are perfectly acceptable.
4. Information About Others
Sometimes, you might be asked for the names of doctors, or relatives. This is not information the insurance company actually needs in most cases. As a result, if you are asked, you don’t need to tell. Your doctor may need to send in a form stating the cause of your injuries, but there is no need for the insurance company to hold lengthy conversations with health care professionals, friends, neighbors, and relatives about what you may or may not have said about the accident.
5. I Don’t Have a Lawyer
It’s true that many insurance companies have lawyers that can be used to help you settle a case stemming from an accident. However, don’t let that deter you from having your own lawyer. Insurance company lawyers are hired to protect the company’s interests. Make sure that you have someone on your side who can help you determine a reasonable settlement (if you are owed), or help protect you if you are sued. Don’t let the insurance company call all of the shots.