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How do I handle insurance after a car accident?

Motor vehicle accidents are common throughout West Virginia. However, most people are not involved in multiple accidents over a short period of time. For example, some people may be involved in more than one accident during their lifetime but, even then, the accidents are likely spread out over months, years or even decades of the person's life. This means that few drivers are experienced in exactly what they need to do after an accident.

One particular area that can vex many people after an accident is how they should handle their insurance claims. Regardless of who is at fault in the accident, each driver will likely have to deal with their respective insurance companies.

An important first step in the process is for a person in this situation to collect as much information about the accident as possible and to call their insurance agent as quickly as possible after the accident. But, it is a good idea to first read through and understand the policy before speaking with an agent. Likewise, you should never give written or recorded statements to your insurance company without first understanding your coverage. Moreover, you do not have to accept an insurance company's settlement offer right away. At this stage in the process, it may be wise to contact an attorney and ask them to evaluate the offer.

Under West Virginia law, every driver must carry certain minimum levels of insurance coverage. But some drivers do not obey this law and have no insurance at all. Other drivers do have insurance, but it may not be an adequate amount to cover all damages if they are at fault in an accident. In cases like that, where the liable driver is underinsured, the accident victim will need to understand how their own insurance policy can fill the coverage gap.

Insurance can be a tricky aspect of dealing with car accidents. But, anyone who is in an accident should know how to assert their contractual rights under their policy to get the compensation they need. Furthermore, if the insurance settlement doesn't seem adequate, don't sign any waivers or agreements, get help from an experienced attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Car Insurance Claims: Dos and Don'ts" Accessed on Feb. 20, 2015

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