7 things not to say after an accident

 7 things not to say

Car accidents are never fun, there is usually damage to cars, property and, more often than not, somebody’s person. It is because of this that countries, including Hong Kong, require motorists to secure car insurance. While the majority will strive to operate in a fair manner - investigating and settling claims in a way where parties who are involved, yet not at fault, are awarded fair compensation - there are a few out there who will try to do their best to avoid paying.

When it comes to settling claims in Hong Kong, insurers will not pay the claim until after a police investigation has been conducted and a judge has ruled which party is at fault. The issue with this is that for every accident, police need to investigate. This is an important step of the accident and insurance process, but it is also one that can be a drain on manpower and resources as according to statistics from the Transport Department there were 15,790 road accidents in 2014.

During the police investigation that is conducted after an accident, all parties involved will be interviewed in order to help the officer determine who was at fault. This information is ultimately handed down to the insurance company who then, along with other data and the court verdict, will determine whether they will pay out on the claim, and if so, the amount they will pay out.

Because you are interviewed, anything you say will be recorded and a few simple words can be the ultimate difference between getting a claim settled quickly and easily, or the insurer denying your claim. Here are 7 words that people use in Hong Kong that could impact the outcomes of any claim after you have been in a car accident.    

I am sorry

It can often be one of the first things out of our mouths when we are in a collision, but actually saying "I'm sorry" or something along the lines of this can be construed as an admission of guilt - we usually say sorry for something we have done, or something that is our fault.

Beyond being an admission of guilt, this could cause confusion as to your role in the accident. For example, if you are a passenger in a vehicle that has been hit and say you are sorry, you could be questioned as to why you are saying sorry.

Our advice is to wait until the police have conducted their investigation and determined the guilty party before saying you are sorry.

I think

Accidents often happen when we are not paying full attention to our surroundings, which often means that we will not be fully aware of all of the elements that caused the accident. Saying "I think' can often be used to determine facts that may not be fully apparent at first.

For example, if you are in an accident where you rear-end a vehicle in front of you, saying "I think they touched their brakes" can often be interpreted by insurers and police to mean "they touched their brakes. I just didn't react in time because I wasn't paying attention." This will likely cause the insurer to deny the claim - you are likely to be more at fault because you basically admitted you weren't paying attention.

If you are ever unsure about something, it is ok and can often be better if you say so. Telling the officer "I am not sure" when you really don't know can help ensure a fair ruling. Of course, don't lie, if you are found to have lied during the interview process insurers will often deny your claim because you submitted false information.   

I am not injured

After an accident many of us will be running on increased adrenaline, which means certain injuries, especially soft tissue injuries, may not be immediately apparent. If you tell an officer or first responder that you are not injured, or you are "fine" this will be noted in the report they file. Should you later be diagnosed with say a lower back injury that the doctor believes could be caused by the accident, some insurers will deny your claim because you claimed to be ok after the accident - after all, the paperwork is there.

Instead, if you believe you might have an injury, be sure to ask to see a doctor before you provide your insurers with this information. In order to make this process as smooth as possible, it would be a good idea to visit a doctor in your insurer's network. This means you likely will not have to see another doctor and avoid extra paperwork or delay. Of course, this does not apply to obvious injuries, just ones that may not be immediately apparent.

Whiplash

Historically, whiplash is often thought to be one of the most commonly used terms in association with fake claims. For example, in 2014, the BBC reported that in the UK, "About 500,000 whiplash insurance claims are made each year, many of which are thought to be bogus."

While this is an actual medical issue commonly seen in car accidents - usually caused by a fast jerk of the head or upper body in an accident - if you claim you've had whiplash you can rest assured knowing that the insurer will be paying extra close attention to your claim.

If you believe you have suffered from whiplash, insist on being diagnosed by a doctor as soon as possible and then talk to your insurer. Be sure to secure a certification from the doctor that can be passed along to the insurer.     

Customized

Judging by the number of garages around the Kwiksure office and the sheer number of higher-end cars in the city, it is fairly common to see cars with custom parts added on. These 'aftermarket' parts, while increasing the power of a car, the look, or even the interior is tempting, it is worth noting that many motor insurance plans in Hong Kong will not actually cover aftermarket parts.

In other words, if you add a body kit to your car, lower it, and add parts like a turbocharger or even conduct ECU tuning, damage to these parts won't be covered in any claim largely because you insured your vehicle based on industry specifications, the aftermarket parts are therefore not covered.

The key here is that you are going to need to check your policy documents, as some plans will cover certain modifications up to a limited amount while others won't cover any modifications.   

Ride-sharing

In Hong Kong ride-sharing companies like Uber are allowed to operate as long as they have the correct permit. If you were driving for a ride-sharing company and do not have the correct permit, then your insurance will more than likely be void. The reason for this is largely due to risk.

As a "normal" driver you probably spend a maximum of a couple of hours in your car each day. If you are driving for a ride-sharing company then you are likely spending many more hours in your car. The more time you spend on the roads, the higher your risk of being in an accident will be. Insurance plans for individual drivers are not created to cover this risk, so they will usually have a stipulation on them that negates coverage if the car is used to make a profit. With your coverage negated, you will be driving illegally, which will likely lead to a criminal prosecution, and you having to pay for any damages out of pocket if you are deemed to be at fault.

As we noted in a previous article, if you do plan on driving for a ride-sharing company, be sure to follow the government's rules and regulations in regards to not only the permits but also the type of insurance you are required to secure.

This is my official statement

The only time you should say this is after you have been attended to by doctors and contacted your insurer. If you are unclear as to what happened or are unsure of all of the details behind the accident then giving an official statement can pose a problem to the settlement of the case, especially if it is found you hid something or missed something.  

When you do give your statement, be sure to do so as accurately as possible. If there are things you are are unsure of, tell the officer. One important thing here is that during your statement you do not assign blame, or admit to blame unless you can 100% prove it. For example with a dash-cam video or through witnesses.

The good news here is that there are a variety of insurers here in Hong Kong that offer solid motor coverage and quick claims settlement. Click here to get a quote today. 

The above information is for reference only. Kwiksure takes no responsibility for the accuracy and timeliness of the information. For the coverage, mode of compensation, benefit limit and premium levels of any specific insurance plan, please refer to the relevant policy terms.