Reporting a claim
You’ve had a car accident. Your home has been vandalized. A tree fell on your garage.
You’re stressed out. You may not even be sure if you’re hurt or not. You’re panicked and unsure of what to do. We’ve been conditioned to call our insurance agent or our insurance company immediately from the side of the road, or while standing in a basement full of water. There are numerous TV commercials that show the insurance agent magically appearing at the site of a car accident moments after it has happened. However, if you’ve experienced an accident or a loss, there may be more important things to consider first – and even your insurance agent will agree that calling them is secondary.
1. Always take care of injuries first. If you’ve been in an accident and anyone at all is injured, your first call should NOT be to your insurance company! Call 911 and take care of all injuries, to ALL parties involved, first. If you call the insurance agency the next day, it’s totally fine.
2. Secure and mitigate. I had never heard the word “mitigate” until I became an insurance agent. And my industry throws that word around like every 5th grader should know what it means. Here’s the deal – you’re home has been broken into? Call the police 1st and the insurance company later. There’s suddenly a tree coming through your broken 2nd floor window? Get a tarp, stop the rain water from coming into the house first before you pick up the phone. DEAL WITH THE SITUATION AT HAND AND IF POSSIBLE, STOP DAMAGE FROM CONTINUING TO OCCUR, before you call the insurance company. Mitigate means doing your best to stop or minimize the damage that has occurred or is occurring. Your insurance agent will thank you, and the claim process will be smoother.
3. If you call your insurance agent the next day, the world will not end. In most cases when an accident, an injury, destruction of property or storm damage has occurred, it is more important that you focus on dealing with the crisis at hand than calling the insurance company. Of course we need to know soon. But “soon” is not the same as “immediately”. Call us the next day when you’ve had time to calm down and think clearly, and when the urgency of the crisis has passed.
4. “Soon” does not mean next month. While most claims do not need to be reported the second that they happen, they also cannot wait for weeks on end. Reporting a claim is all about reasonable time frames. Do you need to call us while the flames are destroying your kitchen? No! Get everyone out of the house, call the fire department, grab a fire extinguisher – be productive and use common sense! That being said, the sooner we start the claim process for you, the sooner your kitchen is back in working order. Call us after the fire is out and everyone is safe.
Insure.com has a few more tips on the Do’s and Don’ts of reporting claims, including the 12 words you should never say. It’s a quick read, but worth perusing now, so that you’re prepared if the worst happens.