There’s a saying among insurance industry insiders: Unlike fine wine, claims don't get better with age; they only get more expensive.
“I am a firm believer that incidents reported immediately have the potential to significantly reduce claims cost,” said Gary Flaherty, assistant vice president of large fleet underwriting and risk management services at Canal Insurance Co., an insurer specializing in insurance for commercial trucking and specialty transportation operations.
Why? Three reasons:
First, the sooner an insurance representative can arrive at the scene and begin investigating the claim, the better the likelihood that scenes and evidence are preserved and recorded in a way that will be useful later in the process. “Scene preservation, vehicle positioning, damages, witness statements—all are best preserved as close in time to the incident as possible,” Flaherty said. “As time passes, things change, including the facts stored in people’s minds as they begin to rewind and replay the accident. Insureds can place themselves—and in turn, their insurers—in the best possible position by reporting claims early.”
Second, early reporting allows damaged vehicles to be more quickly moved to repair facilities, where decisions on repairs can be made faster. This reduces storage fees as well as rental costs for replacement vehicles. In addition to preventing storage-related damage to equipment, quicker repairs get trucks back on the road more quickly, reducing downtime and lost profits.
Finally, collisions have a tendency to sour over time. If claims are not resolved quickly, patience runs out, suspicion builds, and lawyers are hired. Once that happens, even the smallest fender bender can escalate.
“The faster the insurance company gets involved, the more likely people are to build a level of trust and understand that it’s just an accident,” Flaherty said. “You ultimately wind up reducing costs for everyone by moving quickly to resolution.”
Knowing exactly what you should do immediately following a collision can be difficult. Flaherty offers the following advice on what to do and, just as importantly, what not to do.
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