Every day, people in Washington are involved in auto accidents. However, most do not know what to do at the scene. Only by properly handling the scene of an accident can you put yourself in the best position if another driver makes a claim against you, or if you need to make a claim against another driver.
At the scene of the Washington State auto accident
- Call for assistance. Call 9-1-1 and report the accident. Ask for the police to come to the scene.
- Assist the injured. Call for an ambulance if necessary. If you are qualified to give medical aid, then do so to the extent necessary.
- Find witnesses. Be sure to get the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Witnesses can be crucial to your case later on.
- Exchange information. Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of anyone involved in the accident, along with insurance company names and insurance policy numbers. Also give your information to the other driver(s).
- Record information. Write down the year, make, model, and license plate numbers of all vehicles involved. The more information you can gather, the better off you will be.
- Document the scene. Be sure to take pictures of the scene of the accident. Pictures should include the layout of the area, the positions of the vehicles, the damage to the vehicles, and anything on the roadway such as skid marks or debris from the accident.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. Do not make any statements admitting fault. Those statements may be used against you later, even if the accident is not your fault.
- Get medical help. If you have been injured in the accident, get to a hospital by ambulance, or immediately after leaving the scene.
- Completing the above steps will make your life easier when dealing with your own insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company.
- You will not get another opportunity to collect some of the information that is only available at the scene of the accident. Do not assume that someone else is going to get the necessary information; you must do it yourself. For example, don’t assume that the police will find all of the witnesses. Most of the time it is not necessary for a police officer to do a completely thorough investigation of a traffic accident. However, if the case ends up being disputed later on, having an eye-witness can make the difference in who is determined to be at fault.
A little background: Since the early ‘90s, the auto collision repair industry has become infiltrated by the insurance companies seeking to reduce payouts. Due to the infiltration, repair shop profits are almost non-existent. Unfortunately, some repair shops have resorted to sub-standard repairs to make their insurance partners happy which has resulted in poor unsafe vehicle repairs. It has divided the industry and created two types of repair shops.
Types of collision repair shops
- DRP or Contract Shops often referred to as “Preferred” – These shops recognize the insurance company as their customer since they rely on their insurance partners for job referrals, rather than earning the respect for themselves. If given the choice to decide between what is right for the vehicle repair or what the insurance company has told them, the shop WILL choose the latter!
- NON-Preferred or NON-Contract Shop – These shops recognize the vehicle owner as their customer and will repair your vehicle by their own professional repair standards in a manner consistent with the manufacturer guidelines and accepted industry practices. They favor the vehicle owner rather than being in the back pocket of the insurance companies.
BEFORE FILING THE CLAIM:
Choose a repair shop. There are many different factors to consider when choosing a shop, such as quality, speed, price, service, warranty, length of time in business and so on. You should NEVER choose a shop because they “work” with the insurance company. This means they do not work for you!
- ALWAYS ask your friends, relatives and colleagues who has a reputation for quality repairs and service. Do not rely on one source.
- If you have experience with a collision repair shop and you trust them, give them the opportunity to tell their side of the story. This may benefit you!
- Use caution when asking an insurance company for a referral. Remember that they owe you money and may not refer you to a reputable repair shop.
- Lastly, choose a shop where the owner or manager loves what they do! Ask them.
What if my insurance company’s estimate is lower than my shop’s estimate?
Keep in mind that your vehicle is damaged and it is impossible to write a complete, accurate estimate prior to disassembly. Disassembly allows for a thorough inspection. So, don’t be alarmed by a low estimate. Remember that the insurance company is simply preparing a reserve of loss and not an estimate to repair a vehicle and most appraisers are not repair professionals. Some insurance companies may hire third party appraisers. These appraisers are hired and paid by the insurance company to prepare estimates according to the insurance company guidelines. They do not work for you so they do not have your best interest in mind.
Do I have to use aftermarket, reconditioned or used parts?
Absolutely NOT. However, you may have agreed to this in your contract with your insurance company, and YOU may be responsible for the additional cost if you are not willing to accept those parts, or if your repair shop will not use them. If you are third party, then you do not have such a contract, and it is up to YOU to negotiate this with the at-fault party or their insurance company. Keep in mind that aftermarket or reconditioned parts may void your manufacturer’s warranty, compromise your safety, and further diminish the value of your vehicle.
Circle of Propaganda ™:
Items below are things that you may see and hear during this process:
- The insurance company said the repairs would be better and faster and come with a lifetime warranty and so on and so on if you use the insurance contract shop.
- The insurance company says that you charge for things that are not necessary or charge more than everyone else.
- The insurance company said that I would have to pay out of pocket if I choose my own shop.
- The insurance company said they would not warranty the repairs if I choose your shop.
- The insurance company said that I would have to wait for an appraiser if I choose your shop.
- The insurance company said that your company was difficult to work with or doesn’t follow normal procedures.
- The insurance company said that repairs would take longer if I use the shop of my choice.
- The insurance company will not return my phone calls.
- The insurance company says the shop won’t deal with them.
- That repairs shop is not on our preferred list.
- Your shop will not work from the insurance company estimate.
- The insurance company said they would terminate my rental if I choose your shop.
- The insurance company said that your repair shop would not take our phone call.
- The shop you chose requires our staff to sign in and we don’t sign in!
ALL of these items are simply propaganda to coerce or intimidate YOU into doing what the insurance company wants you to do. If you are hearing this, you may be the victim of insurance abuse. These tactics are called steering and In Washington State it’s against the law.
If you are hearing these things about the shop YOU choose, that is a good sign that the shop works for you and not the insurance company! You are much more likely to obtain a complete and safe repair from this type of repair facility. Keep in mind that you should avoid any shop who claims to handle the claim for you. Insurance companies hire and train skilled negotiators to get their way. You do NOT want a repair shop that has signed agreements with the insurance companies or agrees to handle your claim. Keep in mind that a quality repair cannot be had at a budget price.
After you have filed the claim, if the insurance company has scared or confused you at this point, we suggest that you contact your chosen repair shop to discuss any of your concerns as mentioned by the insurance company.
IT’S YOUR VEHICLE, YOUR CHOICE!
While this process may seem difficult or overwhelming, it’s much easier to handle before and during the repairs rather than trying to remedy a bad repair.
It is recommend that you:
- Be cautious giving statements to an insurance company.
- Document ALL conversations via recording or via email. Some large insurance companies may even try to convince that they do not have email capability when, in fact, they are a multi-billion dollar company operating in the 21st century.
- Lastly, seek the advice of a reputable attorney if you are unsuccessful in convincing an insurance company that you will stick to the shop of your choice.
Article Source: http://www.yourvehicleyourchoice.com/what-to-do-in-an-accident/