By Dave B.
Surprisingly, despite most people having auto insurance, very few people understand anything about it. So here are a few helpful hints that will help you navigate the world of insurance if you ever have the misfortune of being in an auto accident, no matter how large or small:
1. Watch Your Damn Mouth
You want your car repaired quickly so that you can get on with your life. Your adjuster wants your car repaired quickly so that they don’t have to deal with you anymore. Everyone wants the same thing. But don’t get it twisted. You aren’t the boss. You’re a supplicant. And the reason for this is that all drivers have to have insurance and all insurance companies have to abide by the same laws. So your threats to speak to a supervisor or switch to a new company don’t mean shit to anyone because there are 100 other customers at a dozen other companies saying the exact same thing as you at the exact same time. You have no power in the situation, so what’s the point in antagonizing the one person in the world that’s trying to help you? Especially when that person has the power and authority to move you to the back of the line. And double especially if you’re a claimant. An adjuster has a fiduciary duty to both their insureds and claimants, but don’t think that those duties weigh the same.
2. Accept Responsibility for What You Did
You can spin whatever story or excuses you want. Damage photos don’t lie. There’s no point in disputing physics. You’re just wasting your time. But don’t feel bad when an accident is your fault. Humans are terrible drivers. There are literally thousands of car accidents in America every day. Probably millions worldwide. You’re a crappy driver because your training is minimal and evolution didn’t design us to be able to drive in a rational manner. Accept it. And buy an autonomous vehicle in a decade or so, once they become available.
3. You Chose Your Policy-That’s On You
You didn’t want to pay the extra couple dollars per month for rental coverage? That’s on you. You excluded certain drivers from your policy and you don’t want to prove that they weren’t driving when the accident occurred? Completely your problem. That $1,000 deductible you have for your brand new car? You chose that. Your adjuster has to deal with a dozen claims per day. Your insistence that you should receive benefits that you didn’t pay for will fall on deaf ears.
4. Be Careful With New Vehicles!
For the love of everything holy. If there’s one thing that you shouldn’t need to be told, it’s to be a little extra cautious when driving new vehicles. Not only are you not accustomed to driving them (increasing your chances of having an accident), but there’s a 100% chance that if you get into an accident the day after adding a car to your policy, there will be a fraud investigation. There isn’t an auto insurance company in the world that won’t do their due diligence in that or similar circumstances. If you believe differently, you’re an idiot.
5. Know Your Obligations
When you sign the papers to get your insurance policy, it’s understandable if you don’t read them. But that doesn’t mean that you aren’t bound by the terms laid out in them. And the most important obligation that those papers lay out for you is that if your insurance company asks you for something, you need to provide it or you don’t get coverage, regardless of what you’ve paid. If your insurance company needs you to provide a Bill of Sale, you better find it quick. If they need a bank account statement proving that you paid on time, get that shit to them ASAP. If they want your recipe for chocolate chip cookies, just fork it over because although insurance companies don’t want to deny you coverage (because that’s more time-consuming and therefore expensive than one might realize) they’ll do it without hesitation if you don’t comply. Remember that.
In short, auto insurance doesn’t function as a “normal” market. You’re not a consumer in the traditional sense. You’re not quite a vassal. You have rights. But those rights are completely contingent upon you complying with the laws and regulations in the state where your policy is issued, the state where you’ve had the accident, and any other applicable processes that the insurance companies have instituted to comply with those laws. The insurance companies are as captive to those laws, rules, and regulations as you are. So take a deep breath, comply, and WATCH YOUR DAMN MOUTH.