For thousands of Americans, summer literally came to a crashing halt over Labor Day weekend.
The nonprofit Consumer Federation of America estimates that during Labor Day weekend, more than 125,000 car crashes occurred around the country, leading to 75,000 to 100,000 car insurance claims. AAA says about 33 million Americans traveled at least 50 miles by car over the weekend.
Surveys by Consumer Reports have shown that 10 percent to 26 percent of filers encountered a claims-related problem, depending on the insurer. Consumer Reports offers these tips to avoid trouble with your claim:
· • Always call your own insurer right away if a crash involves another person or vehicle.
· • Never agree to skip reporting a crash out of sympathy for an at-fault motorist who promises to pay you out of pocket.
· • If you're at fault, you might not want to file a report with your insurer if damage is limited to your own vehicle and you expect costs to be within your deductible or slightly more. You're not required to file a claim; doing so can cause a premium hike.
“Most people are intimidated when they file an auto insurance claim, perhaps because they have never done it before or worry about getting less than they deserve for personal injuries or damages to their car,” Mark Romano, the consumer federation's director of insurance claims projects, says in a news release.
The consumer federation provides an online guide to navigating the car insurance claims process. Among the items covered in the guide:
· • How you can file a successful claim with the other driver’s insurance company if the crash wasn't your fault.
· • Who you should call – and not call – at your insurance company to resolve claim problems.
· • How to get help from state insurance regulators if your company doesn't treat you right.
· • When you should refuse to provide records to insurance companies.
· • How you can protect the privacy of your personal information.
“This information empowers consumers to become their own advocates to get a fairer and quicker settlement of their auto claims,” Romano says.