Car Accident...What Now?

 If you ever experience a car accident, it’s important to know these steps for effectively filing claims.

If you ever experience a car accident, it’s important to know these steps for effectively filing claims.

Tips for Effectively Filing Claims

Experiencing a loss can be stressful, frustrating and disheartening, but having insurance coverage will help alleviate the financial burden a loss can cause. The first step in restoring your property and moving forward is to determine if your policy provides coverage for the loss. To do this you need to file a claim with the insurer.

While the claims process isn't something many eagerly look forward to, there are definitely ways you can make it a less stressful experience. To help you successfully navigate the process, here are several tips for effectively and efficiently filing claims.

Keep an inventory of all your insured possessions.

Be proactive! If you keep a written document of your possessions, it can help make the claims process much easier if you experience a loss. Go from room to room and record each item and its value to prepare an inventory. An easy way to do this is to take photos or videos of each room and all of the contents in the rooms. Consider keeping receipts with the purchase date and original cost for your records too, in case of total loss. Your inventory list should be consistently updated, which can be done easily if you record new items shortly after purchasing them. Pro Tip: Your inventory should be easily accessible. It is a good idea to keep a couple copies of your inventory at different locations, with one location being off-premises in case of a total loss, like a fire.

Reach out to your agent first.

In the event of a potential claim, it's best to contact your agent directly instead of the broader insurance provider. Your agent will be able to explain your options and advise on whether filing a claim is in your best interest. In some cases, your agent may even file the claim for you.

Report your loss promptly.

Always file your claim as soon as you possibly can. Of course, theft losses should be reported to the police first, and in other situations of danger and urgency, safety takes priority. But once it's safe and reasonable to do so, you should contact your insurance agent. This is important because your policy might require you to make the notification within a certain amount of time. Not filing a claim within the time required in your policy may lead to a denial of the claim or may result in the claims process taking longer.

Be prepared with the right information.

When you file your claim or make follow-up calls regarding the process, be sure to have the right information so your conversation is easier and more effective. Have your inventory list and the details of your loss, and keep the following information handy for your claims representative:

  • The customer's name and address

  • The policy number

  • The date the loss happened

  • A description of what happened

  • A preferred telephone number for future contact

Provide complete, correct information.

Explain the situation accurately without downplaying or exaggerating your loss. Incorrect or incomplete information may cause complications and delays in processing the claim. Additionally, materially misrepresenting the facts of your loss may result in a loss of coverage.

Record important details from all correspondence.

While going through the claims process, be sure to write down important information from your phone conversations and in-person meetings with claims representatives and other contacts. This should include the time and date, as well as the name and title of the person you spoke with. This will help you stay organized and create records that may come in handy later.

Make appropriate emergency repairs.

If you're dealing with property damage it may be necessary to make immediate emergency repairs to prevent additional damages, such as calling a plumber to repair a broken pipe. Your policy might cover the costs of these emergency repairs, so be sure to inquire about them when filing the claim. It is also important to take photos or even videos before making the repairs, and save the receipts from all of the work that is done.

Ask questions.

Don't be afraid to ask your claims representative for more information or clarification. The process will go much more smoothly if you are both on the same page and fully understand each other. For example, if there is a disagreement about the coverage of the claim, ask for the specific language in the policy that is in question to find out if it is a matter of differing interpretations.

Overall, it's important to have patience because every insurance claim is different! Some may be completed quickly, while others may take a few weeks or even months to be resolved. You never know when problems will arise, but these tips can help you to effectively address the situations and smoothly navigate the claims process.

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Ryker Huizinga

Ryker is a multimedia storyteller with interests in writing, video, photography and design. He is on a quest to visit all of the U.S. national parks, and is almost always planning his next camping trip. Combining passions for travel and creative communication, he draws from his experiences to share stories of safety and adventure.

Hurricane readiness tips for your car, boat or RV

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By Progressive Progressive.com

Hurricane season is here—check out the following tips to keep you and your family, as well as your car, boat or RV safe in case severe weather strikes.

Tips to make sure your car is hurricane-ready

With most of your focus on your family and home, you may not think much about your car during a hurricane. But, it may just be your key to safety if you need to evacuate.

Make sure your car is ready and that you understand how to drive in severe conditions.

Well in advance:

  • Prepare an evacuation route.

  • Store emergency supplies in your trunk. The basics include a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable foods, and prescription medications. Here are a few additional suggestions.

 If a storm is forecast:

  • Get a full tank of gas. Fuel may be in short supply after the storm.

  • Make sure the windshield wipers are in good shape, and the tires (including your spare) are properly inflated.

  • Place your auto and home insurance documents, vehicle registration, title, and other important documents in a waterproof bag and keep them with you.

  • Charge your cell phone and plan to bring it if you evacuate.

  • If you expect to leave your car behind, be sure it’s not in a flood-prone area. Rising water can seep in and damage your vehicle.

  • If you’re instructed to evacuate, do so immediately.

If you’re ordered to evacuate or are returning home after an evacuation:

  • Avoid driving through deep water. The average car can be swept off the road by as little as 12″ of moving water. Just try to find an alternate route.

  • If your vehicle stalls in water, you may need to restart the engine to make it to safety. But, be aware that restarting may severely damage your engine.

  • If you can’t restart your car and you become trapped in rising water, immediately abandon it for higher ground. If you’re unable to get out safely, call 911 or get help from a passerby or someone standing on higher ground.

  • After you and your vehicle are out of deep water and in a safe area, depress your brakes slowly several times to help them dry.

Tips to make sure your boat is hurricane-ready

Know how to protect your boat if a hurricane or other severe weather event is approaching. We developed these tips with help from the U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Administration. Ultimately, the best way to protect your vessel is to remove it from the water, and all other measures are supplemental in the event this can’t be done.

Whether your boat is docked, anchored, or in dry storage:

  • Have a storm strategy and implement it well before the hurricane hits.

  • Remove non-secure items, electronics and excess gear.

  • Remove important documents and valuables.

  • Make sure openings are watertight, and remove or stow non-essential canvas.

  • Ensure that all self-bailing thru hull fittings are clear of debris.

  • Check that batteries are fully charged and that automatic bilge pump switches are operational.

If your boat is docked:

  • Double-up on chafe protection.

  • Double all lines, attaching them high on pilings to allow for a storm surge. The longer the dock lines, the better a boat will move with high and rough tides.

 If your boat is anchored:

  • Do not tie it parallel to the shore.

  • Leave plenty of room between your boat and other boats.

  • Be sure to use enough line to allow for a storm surge.

  • Clear all self-baling cockpit drains.

  • Consider using several anchors.

If your boat is in dry storage:

  • Place it in an area higher than the expected storm surge.

  • Lash it to its cradle with heavy lines and consider adding water to the bilge to help hold it down. Never leave your boat on davits or on a hydro-lift.

  • If your boat is on a trailer, take some air out of the tires and secure the wheels with blocks between the frame and the axles.

  • Make sure all drains are free from debris and drain plugs are removed.

With any of these scenarios, if you’re out of town, ask a friend or relative with access to your boat to help. Sure, you’ll “owe him,” but that favor could help prevent some very expensive damage.

Of course, the most important thing to remember is to protect yourself. Never put yourself in danger while trying to protect your boat.

Tips to make sure your RV is hurricane-ready

Your RV can help you and your family evacuate an area, and serve as a cost-effective, temporary living space if your home isn’t livable due to storm damage.

Here are a few tips to make sure your RV is hurricane-ready.

Well in advance:

  • Prepare an evacuation route.

  • Store emergency supplies in your RV. The basics include a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable foods, and prescription medications. Here are a few additional suggestions.

  • Perform a thorough safety check. If you use gas-powered lanterns or cook stoves, be sure to have battery-operated fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If you use an electric generator, install a transfer switch to prevent shocks.

If a storm is in the forecast:

  • Get a full tank of gas. Fuel may be in short supply after the storm.

  • Make sure the windshield wipers are in good shape, and the tires (including the spare) are properly inflated.

  • Pack sleeping bags and bedding in plastic to protect them from moisture.

  • Place your auto and home insurance documents, vehicle registration, title, and other important documents in a waterproof bag and keep them with you.

  • Charge your cell phone and plan to bring it if you evacuate.

  • Empty the holding tanks, turn off the propane cylinders, and cover the regulator.

  • If you have a travel trailer, tie it down and make sure it’s secure.

  • If you expect to leave your RV behind, make sure it’s not in a flood-prone area. Rising water can seep in and damage upholstery, carpeting and electrical systems.

  • If you’re instructed to evacuate, do so immediately.

Driving:

  • Don’t drive during a hurricane. RVs are particularly vulnerable to heavy winds and rain because of their size and high center of gravity.

  • If you have no alternative than to drive through standing water, do it slowly and steadily. If your RV stalls, you may need to restart the engine to make it to safety. But, be aware that restarting may severely damage your engine.

  • If you can’t restart your RV and become trapped in rising water immediately abandon the vehicle for higher ground. If you’re unable to get out safely, call 911 or get help from a passerby or someone standing on higher ground.

 

Top Eight Mistakes People Make While Towing

The idea of hauling something huge behind your truck or SUV may sound like a fun adventure, but for those who aren't familiar with the complexities of towing, it can actually be pretty intimidating! According to Complete Trailers LLC, there are eight common mistakes people make while towing. To avoid costly damages, read this list before you hitch and go:

  1. Overworking Your Engine

    The number one mistake people make is overworking their tow vehicle. Overextending your vehicle can start a landslide of engine problems. This mistake could lead to a meltdown on the side of the road and potentially require a brand new transmission.

    To avoid this, keep an eye on your pressure, temperature gauges, and exhaust gas temperature gauges.

  2. There are eight common mistakes people make while towing. To avoid costly damages, read this list before you hitch and go.

  3. Wrong Weight Distribution Bars

    If you don't have your weight distribution bars set up right, you're bound to have your vehicle and trailer bouncing from each other. Your ride will be bumpier than usual and the hitch and frame can be damaged from this too.

    And when it comes to weight distribution bars, bigger is not better. The bars with chains are tunable and come in various strengths and weights. If you properly load the correct bar size, they'll be parallel to the trailer's frame.

  4. Not Checking or Maintaining Brakes

    Brakes are the most essential and most overlooked safety system.

    Trailer brakes don't self-adjust like the brakes on your tow vehicle. In fact, they must be manually adjusted by you. Additionally, trailer brakes wear out just like any other brake does, so be sure to check for wear and tear regularly.

  5. Poorly Loaded Vehicles
    It's crucial for safety and damage prevention to always put a balanced load on your trailer. Read up on weight restrictions and follow them closely because if you don't, your tow vehicle won't last very long.

  6. Wrong Ball/Ball Mount
    Make sure that you have the right ball and mount for your trailer. There are three different sizes of balls: 1 7/8 inches, 2 inches, and 2 5/16 inches — each with a different weight rating. Using the wrong mount or ball will pitch your trailer up or down on your axles and it also puts extra stress on your brakes and tires, which eventually reduces your breaking ability. If you use multiple trailers, carry multiple mounts.

  7. "Racing" While Towing
    We know how exciting it is to get to a destination, but remember, slow and steady wins the race! Speeding up or down a grade is the last thing you want to do because it'll ruin the longevity of your tow vehicle.

  8. Low-Pressure Tires
    If you maintain the right tire pressure on both your tow vehicle and trailer, you'll have even tire wear, which means you're less likely to have blow-outs from overheating. This scenario is especially dangerous when it happens on your rear trailer tires, so make sure to pay special attention to them. Tires degrade more quickly when not in use. Before you hitch and go, remember to always inspect your tires and pressure.

  9. Not Lubing Your Components
    Like any well-oiled machine, taking preventative measures with your trailer and tow vehicle goes a long way. Axles and all pivot points where steel meets steel (or rubber bushings meet steel) should be greased.

Foremost wants you to travel and tow safely.

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Foremost Creative Team

Here at Foremost, we are packed full of product specialists, creative marketers, stellar writers and much, much more! We love what we do and want to share it with you. So, read up and watch on for the newest trends and the interesting parts of insurance we bring to you right here on our blog. Yes, we did say interesting parts of insurance. Keep reading and watching, you'll see!