Survival Guide to Auto Claims

Survival Guide to Auto Claims

It was 4:56 pm. You had a very long day. You found yourself stuck on Deerfoot Trail by the Calf Robe Bridge like hundreds of other drivers. The traffic was just not going anywhere. You started to think about what was left for you to do today: let your dogs out and go to the grocery store to pick up some milk. You just wanted to get out of there. You just wanted to go home. At that moment, the traffic finally started to move along. What an unexplainable sense of relief. You got a bit excited. You released your brake and stepped on the accelerator. Unfortunately, you misjudged how far the traffic was going and how slippery the road really was. The next thing you knew… you hit the car in front of you.

What were you going to do? Should you call 911? Or, should you keep your mouth shut at the scene to avoid putting yourself in a prejudicial position?

Here are a few tips for you:

Calm down! Take a deep breathe.

You need a clearer mind than ever! Don’t let your adrenaline get the best of you and put yourself in harm ways!

Assess the situation cautiously.

Watch your surroundings and make sure you are not putting yourself any further damages before stepping out the vehicle! If the road condition is not safe for you to step out, stay in the vehicle if it is not going to put yourself in any further danger. While you do not have to stay where you are and call 911 on every single collision, if the collision involved serious injuries or extensive damage to your vehicle, then you will need to call 911.

Take pictures

Well, it is 2015. You have a smartphone, right? Grab your phone and start to take pictures – not selfies, but capture the scene: The third party’s license plate (in case they hit and run), where the third party’s vehicle is located relative to the traffic lines and other fixtures from a few feet away from different angles, the third party’s vehicle damage from different angles, where your vehicle is located relative to the traffic lines and other fixtures from a few feet away from different angles, your vehicle damage from different angles, and, any other important traffic devices.

Gather information

You don’t know what is important when you need them. Look around you to see if there may be any witnesses who were present at the scene. Ask for their name and contact information. It will be even better to get their business cards.  Exchange contact and insurance information with the third party’s driver. You shall not need to apologize or be confrontational. All you are doing is to collect the information for your insurer to handle the claim further. You will need the third party’s name, telephone number, address, vehicle information (year, make, model and serial number) and insurance information (insurance company’s name, policy number and expiry date). Once again, our modern technology can potentially save the day. Snap pictures of the third party’s driver license, vehicle registration, pink card and business card. All the information discussed are available there.

So, what’s next?

If everyone can drive away fine with no injuries and there is no need to call 911 at the spot, you can go after gathering all the information discussed above. So, what’s next? You will want to go to nearest police station to file a police report. If you experience some stiffness and want to be cautious, you can go to the closest medical centre to have a quick check.

Report the claim 

Call your broker or directly to your insurance company. If it is after business hours, most companies have some after-hour or 24 hours claim line. Provide them with all the information that you have about the incident. A claim handler will contact you for a detailed in the following business day. 

How damages to your vehicle are covered will depend on who is at-fault for the accident as well as the coverages you have. 

If you’re fully responsible for the collision: Repair or replacement expenses may only be covered if you have opted to include collision coverage in your auto insurance policy. In this case, you will have to pay your deductible. 

If you’re partially at-fault for the collision: Repair and replacement expenses will be partially covered by direct compensation property damage, which is a mandatory coverage that came into effect in Alberta on Jan. 1, 2022. You will be responsible to cover the remaining repair or replacement expenses yourself (collision coverage can help offset these costs, but you must have chosen to include this optional coverage as part of your auto insurance policy). 

If you’re not at-fault for the collision: Repair and replacement expenses will be covered by direct compensation property damage, which will be paid by your insurer. Learn more about direct compensation property damage, which was enacted in Alberta as of Jan. 1, 2022.

In terms of injury claims, if you’re responsible for the car accident and injury another person, third-party liability insurance (which is mandatory in Alberta) will help cover the individual’s medical and rehabilitation expenses. The coverage can also help cover legal fees if you are sued. Accident benefits coverage (also mandatory in Alberta) will help cover your medical and rehabilitation expenses, no matter who is at fault for the accident. 

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