Insurance Claims


TIRE GUY Insurance Claims:  How to make effective insurance claims

When thinking about Insurance Claims related to tires and cars in general, it seems to me that most people spend much more time and effort deciding what to have for lunch than they do in understanding their car insurance policy.

You go for lunch and you ask "Is this available with salad instead of fries?", "Can I have this cooked only medium rare?"  "Is desert included?"  I'm sure you can come up with a long list of questions that you want to have answered BEFORE you order lunch, yet when it comes to your car insurance, even though you have spent much more for the policy than you would have for ten or twenty lunches and might have thousands of dollars at stake, many people don't even think of questions about their insurance policy until AFTER they have had an accident or some other reason to make a claim.

The point I'm attempting to make here is that you should be asking questions and trying to understand what your insurance covers before something happens ... and if possible even before you buy the policy.

If you start asking questions when you are shopping for insurance, you just may be able to get a policy that will cover you for exactly what you want not what a standard policy provides.

If you leave it until after you've bought your insurance, just reading through the policy and understanding it can save you a lot of time and frustration when and if the time comes to make a claim.

Don't forget about other insurance.


Apart from your car insurance you may have benefits available to you from other insurance policies that you might not even been aware of.

To give you an example, there are some credit cards that carry a buyer protection policy for anything that you purchase using that credit card to pay for it.   In one case, the policy protects you against theft or damages that happen within 90 days after you bought it.

Suppose you buy a new set of tires and two weeks later hit a pot-hole in the road that badly damages the tire.   That damage is not covered by the tire manufacturer because it it not a defect in the tire, and even if you wanted to claim for it under your car insurance, you would have to pay the deductible and might result in having your insurance premium increase, but, if you claimed for it  from the credit card you might end up getting it paid for.

Now that I've raised your hopes about getting some benefit from a credit card benefit, I'm going to splash some cold water in your face.  Some credit cards state that this 90 damage or loss coverage is for "Personal Property."   Does this exclude tires on your car?  It really depends on how the policy defines "Personal Property."  To learn this you need to read your policy.

So, again, it is important that you read your policy.

What is insurance?

This is another important thing to consider when you are both buying and claiming for insurance.

It seems to me that a lot of people consider insurance to be some kind of deal something like a lottery ticket that is going to give you a fantastic prize if you simply pass the test of convincing the insurance company that you qualify.

In reality most standard insurance policies are designed to return you to a state in which you are exactly the same as you were before some unexpected misfortune occurred -- most certainly there is no intention to improve your situation or to come close to striking-it-rich, as some people seem to believe.

Look at a situation in which some tires are damaged beyond repair.  In the simplest and purest form an insurance policy would give you a tire which is exactly the same as the tire which was damaged.  Exactly means that if that tire was 3 years old and nearly completely worn out, the obligation of the insurance company would be to give you another tire that is 3 years, nearly worn out BUT which still is as usable as the one which was destroyed.

Of course, it might be nearly impossible to find a 3 year old tire with the same amount of wear that your lost tire had, so the insurance company might allow you to purchase a new one, and possibly reduce the value which they pay you to account for the extra life which you get from the new tire that you would not have got from the one which had been damaged.

If you shop for insurance you may find policies which will pay you the full replacement cost without any reduction, but if you compare the cost of that insurance policy, you'll probably discover that it will cost more than one which only pays the exact replacement value.

Ways of reducing insurance costs

There's another very common way of getting an insurance policy which costs less.  This is by increasing what the insurance industry calls "The Deductible"   This is a term which means that when you make a claim against the policy, you agree to pay part of the damage you are claiming, and the insurance policy pays the rest.   The amount you pay is "The deductible." So, for example, if your policy has a deductible of $100.00, you pay the first $100.00 of whatever you are claiming you lost.



Obviously, if you have a claim of just $101.00 and have to pay $100.00, you may not feel that it is worth the time and effort required to get only $1.00 back from the insurance company.

Now you might have another possibility of buying a policy with a deductible of $500.00.  If you do,  your insurance premium (that is what the insurance costs) will be less than if the deductible is just $100.00 but, of course, when it comes time to make a claim you know that you are going to have to pay the first $500.00.

Other difficulties

The following applies not only to tires, but to virtually any kind of accident or damage claim which you might experience.  

Once you understand your policy and know what you can claim for you may run into difficulties if you do not take certain steps or provide the insurance company with the information they require to know that they have a valid claim.

Keep these points in mind:

  • If anyone has been injured or the accident has caused a road traffic danger, make sure you call the police. Also do this if the other driver leaves without stopping or if they appear to be drunk.
  • Do not say that what happened was your fault or offer to pay for any damage. If another driver does, tell your insurer.
  • Get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of anyone involved, including witnesses. Make a note of the time and date.  If you have a digital camera or phone with a camera, take photos of everything you can, from every angle possible.  Take pictures of the licence plates of other cars who may have wittnessed the accident, to help you locate the witnesses.
  • Ask the other driver for their insurance policy details. They have to give you this by law.  Give them details of your insurance, if they ask.
  • While the incident is fresh in your mind, make a drawing of the road layout and where everyone was.
  • Write down, photograph and record as much detail as possible, such as weather and speed limits.
  • If the police come, get their names and badge numbers so you can give this to your insurer.
  • Inform your insurance company as soon as possible.
  • Discuss the car accident only with the police and your insurance agent.
  • If you decide you need a lawyer, be sure you establish what his or her fee arrangement is and remember that when you hire a lawyer, you lose your ability to represent yourself with the insurance company.
  • Provide the police with whatever information they require. Ask the investigating officer where you can obtain a copy of the police report, which you may need to support any claim you submit to your insurance company.
  • Try to protect the accident scene. Take reasonable steps to protect your car from further damage, such as setting up flares, getting the car off the road and calling a tow truck. If necessary, have the car towed to a repair shop. But remember, your insurance company probably will want to have an adjuster inspect it and appraise the damage before you order repair work done.
  • Make notes. Keep a pad and pencil in your glove compartment. Write down the names and addresses of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident. Also note the license number, make and model of each car involved and record the driver's license number and insurance identification of each driver. Record the names and addresses of as many witnesses as possible, as well as the names and badge numbers of police officers or other emergency personnel. If you run into an unattended vehicle or object, try to find the owner. If you can't, leave a note containing your name, address and phone number.

Filing Your Claim

  • If your car is involved in an accident, if it is damaged by fire, flood or vandalism, or if it is stolen, put your insurance to work for you by following these steps in filing your claim:
    • Phone your insurance agent or a local company representative. Do it as soon as possible even if you're far from home and even if someone else caused the accident. Ask your agent how to proceed and what forms or documents will be needed to support your claim. Your company may require a "proof of loss" form, as well as documents relating to your claim, such as medical and auto repair bills and a copy of the police report.
    • Supply the information your insurer needs. Cooperate with your insurance company in its investigation, settlement or defense of any claim, and turn over to the company immediately copies of any legal papers you receive in connection with your loss. Your insurer will represent you if a claim is brought against you and defend you if you are sued.
    • Keep records of your expenses. Expenses you incur as a result of an automobile accident may be reimbursed under your policy. Remember, for example, that your no-fault insurer usually will pay your medical and hospital expenses, and possibly such other costs as lost wages and at least part of your costs if you have to hire a temporary housekeeper.
    • Keep copies of your paper work. Store copies of all paper work in your own files. You may need to refer to it later.

To sum it all up, the most important an vital thing to do, is to read your policy, and understand what it contains BEFORE something happens.   If there's something you don't like you might be able to replace that policy with one which is more suitable to your needs.

tireguy

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