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What to do after an auto accident

After being involved in a car accident, it's likely that you are shaken up and may have some serious injuries. The most important thing to focus on is getting immediate medical care to make sure that your health and well-being are not in jeopardy.

But after you have tended to your injuries, it's time to shift your focus to notifying your insurance company about the wreck. Below are some steps to take to insure that you preserve your rights in the case.

-- Make sure that you notify your agent in a timely manner that you have been involved in an accident, but prior to making the call, read the fine print on your policy regarding exclusions and coverage.

-- Check to see if you have other supplemental policies that could pay out after your accident. Often these are tied into credit cards or homeowner policies.

-- Keep a list of each person with your insurance company with whom you speak. Include their titles, the dates you spoke and the gist of the conversations.

-- Don't discuss anything on tape with any insurance adjuster until you are certain that you have a good grasp of your policy limits. This prohibition especially applies to the representatives of any at-fault drivers' insurance companies.

-- Never lie to your insurer. Telling them untruths or attempting to obfuscate the circumstances of the accident can invalidate your coverage.

-- You can be reimbursed for more than just your medical bills. Time lost from work, expenses related to travel to and from medical appointments and other related expenses all can become part of your eventual claim for damages. Hang on to receipts for proof.

-- Remember that the first offer from an insurance adjuster is intentionally low-balled in the hopes that in your hurry to put the wreck behind you and move on, you will snap it up.

If at any point during the settlement process you feel as if you are not being treated fairly and compensated adequately for your losses, you may want to seek out the guidance of a personal injury attorney to evaluate your claim.

Source: Findlaw, "Car Insurance Claims: Dos and Don'ts," accessed Feb. 19, 2016

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