What You Need to Know to Make a Successful Insurance Claim


This past year, we’ve reviewed many insurance-related topics. Here’s a brief review of claims that could affect you and your family.

Whose insurance company do I report a car accident to?

In short, the answer is both your insurance company and the other party’s. You have a duty to timely report the accident claim to your insurance company, which will be liable to pay your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits if you’re injured, regardless of fault. PIP benefits are part of every standard auto insurance policy issued in the state of Florida. It pays 80% of your medical expenses, lost wages and/or household expenses that you were unable to perform, up to $10,000.

Additionally, your insurance company might be liable to pay uninsured motorist coverage if the vehicle that you collided with doesn’t have any or enough insurance. It may also be liable for your car damage if you have collision coverage and comprehensive coverage, even if you aren’t at fault. The only detriment to using your insurance company when you’re not at fault is your obligation to pay your deductible.

The at-fault driver’s insurance company will be liable to pay for your medical bills beyond PIP and covering your “pain and suffering.” They will likely contact you to offer a rental car and inspect your damage. However, you have no obligation to speak to them directly. They ask questions designed to minimize your damage and injury, so it’s best to consult with an attorney who can guide you before you respond.

My house was damaged by a storm, fire or burglary. Who do I call?

If your home was damaged in a storm, contact your homeowner’s insurance company immediately. They will send an adjuster to inspect the home, take measurements and photos of the damage and write an estimate for repairs. Also take your own photos to ensure nothing is missed.

The same holds true for a fire. The only difference is that many items in the home become smoke-damaged, which is difficult to reflect in photos. Point out the strong odor of smoke in your furniture,
your ducts and your clothing to the adjuster so it’s documented.

For a home burglary, photograph the point of entry where there is broken glass or doorframe damage and areas of the home where items used to be. Then find photos you took at your home previously showing the missing items.

Your insurance company will ask you to complete paperwork describing the incident and a “proof of loss.” This is a sworn document that lists all damaged or missing items and their amount to the best of your ability. If you’re asked to give a recorded statement under oath, have an attorney present so you don’t jeopardize payment of your claim. You may be telling the truth, but that doesn’t mean something bad can’t happen.

Consult with an experienced attorney with any insurance claims. They are the experts in guiding you through the claims process successfully.


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Written by Michael Brehne

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