When you get into an accident, you have to show proof of the damage that your vehicle incurred, and the best way to do that is by documenting it carefully. Documenting accident damage involves gathering as much information and evidence as you can so that you can sufficiently support your insurance claim.
Jot Down Notes
The first step is to take written notes of the event, or you can record yourself talking about the scene and then translate written details from it later on if you’re in a hurry to get all the information down as quickly as possible. Start with simple facts like what happened and how the event unfolded. Use specifics like the speed you were going, the road conditions that you encountered during the accident and who witnessed the crash as it was happening.
Write down the name, driver’s license number and license plate number of each of the people involved in the accident. Also get insurance information including the policy number if you can help it. All of this will make filing the claim much easier and will ensure that you get the proper coverage that you need from the person involved in the accident.
Take Lots of Photos
After jotting down quick notes, you need to pull out that smartphone and start snapping pictures of the event if you can. Take pictures of the vehicle plates, any damage done and the positions of the vehicles at the scene of the accident. The more detailed and numerous your photos are, the easier it is going to be to prove your side of the story. Make sure you get as many as you can before the cars are moved around too much. Also get photos of skid marks and debris from the accident if anything is far away from the actual vehicles themselves.
Save the Information
Make sure that you keep all the information you gathered from the scene of the crash for as long as it takes to get a payout from the insurance company. Don’t immediately get rid of this documentation after you give it to the company, and instead keep backups for your records so that you have all the information you need if you aren’t treated by the company properly.
Fight for Fair Market Value on a Totaled Vehicle
In cases of very severe accidents vehicles are often considered a total loss. When that happens, the insurance company says that the vehicle is no longer safe to drive around, and it pays the market value of the vehicle to you, or that’s what the company is supposed to do. The company is going to give you as little money as possible for your vehicle, so it’s up to you to determine the fair market value of your vehicle before accepting an amount.
To get the most accurate value for your vehicle do the following:
Look at Kelley Blue Book for the estimated value of a vehicle with the same mileage and in the same conditions that yours was in before the accident.
Try to provide photos of the interior taken before the damage was done. It’s a good idea to take pictures regularly just in case.
Compile a list of the repairs and maintenance tasks done on the vehicle throughout your ownership.
With all of this information, you should be able to get an accurate amount of money for your totaled vehicle. Some of the money is removed from the amount to cover your auto loan, and whatever is left is passed on to you. In many instances, it’s not enough to buy another vehicle of the same quality, and you’ll be left paying more out of pocket to get another vehicle or settling for a lower quality option. That’s why many car owners pay for gap insurance, which ensures you get the same quality or better vehicle if yours is totaled.
Do a good job when documenting your vehicle after an accident and you’ll have an easier time getting your money in the end, and you won’t have to worry about being blamed for an accident that wasn’t your fault.