Driving on California roads, highways and freeways is a risky endeavor. Despite your attention and care, there is a high probability of being involved in a crash.
If you do sustain injuries or property damage in a car accident, it is important that you understand your rights and responsibilities under California law. This is especially the case when it comes to filing the insurance claim.
Understand your policy and other important tips
The California Department of Insurance encourages policyholders to educate themselves before an accident occurs. The most beneficial thing you can do for yourself as an insured individual is to thoroughly read through your policy upon enrollment. If there is a part of the policy you do not understand, or if a provision seems ambiguous, ask the insurer for clarification. Get the clarification in writing.
Immediately following an accident, gather as much information from the scene as possible to bolster your claim. Notify your insurer and cooperate with its investigation efforts. If something seems off about the claims process, request an explanation.
Know your rights under the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations
Among a few other things, California developed the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations to encourage insurance companies to deal with claims in a prompt and efficient manner, to deal in good faith and to ensure the equitable settlement of claims in a cost-effective way. Per the bylaws, insurers must do the following:
- Advise you of your complete benefits, coverage, time limits for filing a claim and other policy provisions
- Provide you with prompt responses upon receiving communications from you, but no more than 15 days later
- Acknowledge your claim, send forms and instructions, open an investigation and provide reasonable support no more than 15 days upon receipt of notice of your claim
- Make a decision regarding your claim as quickly as possible, but no more than 40 days after receiving proof of it
- Upon approval of the claim, offer a fair settlement
- Pay the settlement no more than 30 days after you agree to it
The above is just a brief overview of your rights and the insurer's responsibilities under the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations.