Every time you get in your car, start it up, and pull out onto the road there is a chance that you will be in an accident. When it comes to driving it's not a matter of if you will be in an accident, but when. That is why it is so important to ensure that you have adequate car insurance coverage which can and will cover most if not all of the cost of repairs and damages. The concern here is that some insurers or garages in Hong Kong might not act in the best interests of the drivers they cover and try to inflate claims.
Should this happen, you could see your premiums increase at a higher rate or if the damage is serious enough you could end up paying a considerable sum out of pocket. In order to ensure that you are treated fairly when it comes to submitting a claim after an accident, here are 5 things you can do.
1. Ensure that your phone is always charged
These days almost every driver in Hong Kong carries a smartphone with them. Your smartphone has a camera which can be used to take photos of the accident and the damage done to your vehicle, or other parties/property nearby.
By ensuring that your phone is charged or has enough battery to take pictures and make a few phone calls you can ensure that all parties involved will be able to get a clear picture and record of any damages done. This can, in turn, be used to more accurately judge the damage done and the potential repair costs needed.
Should you be in an accident, there are a number of important things you should be taking pictures of including:
The scene of the accident - When you think about it, this probably makes sense. Take a picture of the scene of the accident before any of the vehicles are moved. This can help not only the police with their investigation but might also provide insurers with more information they can use when determining claims.
Your vehicle - It could help to take pictures of your vehicle and the damage after an accident. One thing to remember is to make sure that in some of the images you take, your license plate is clearly visible. This can help the different parties identify vehicles better.
Other vehicles involved - Finally, be sure to take some pictures of the other vehicles involved in the accident. While it is important to take photos of the damage done, it can also help to take pictures of the vehicle where there is no damage. This way, if the driver submits a claim for repair or a part that was not damaged your insurer can move to investigate.
2. Before an accident, install a dash cam
We have written about the benefits of dash cams before, especially when it comes to ensuring that the party at fault for an accident is identified properly. Should your dash cam record the accident, this footage can usually be submitted to the police which will help them with their reports and investigation.
In fact, some insurers will also accept the footage and use it when they go to settle claims and decide which party's insurance will be paying.
One downside about most dash cams is that they only look in one direction e.g., in front of the car. It could be beneficial to invest in a second cam which is installed looking behind the vehicle.
3. Draw or sketch the accident
Being in an accident can be a traumatizing and scary situation. Often, in situations like this we might not be fully paying attention or able to process what happened. One thing that could help get your mind around the situation could be to draw what happened.
For example, try to sketch down the vehicle positions before the accident and anything you remember doing, or seeing happening. This could really help you explain to the police and the insurer what happened, which in turn can help them assign blame.
Beyond that, writing down observations made directly after an accident can help make the claims process easier. For example, take note of the condition of people involved e.g., another driver got out of the vehicle and was walking. This could help reduce the chances of fake claims being submitted against you if say the driver then fakes a broken ankle.
4. Contact your insurer ASAP
This is another reason as to why you should ensure your phone has adequate battery levels when you start driving. If you are in an accident and contact your insurer as soon after the accident as possible you could start the claims process earlier.
This also helps to ensure that any other parties involved do not submit inflated claims. For example, they wait 23 hours, are in another minor accident and then try to claim that as part of the original accident.
If this happens, then you could see your premium increase even more than it would have with just the first accident.
Beyond that, it is important to contact your insurer even for small accidents. Yes, this might impact your No Claims Discount, but it could help ensure that any future claims are dealt with promptly. If an insurer finds out that you have neglected to inform them of previous accidents, they could take steps to not only deny your claim but terminate your coverage, leaving you to pay for any and all damages out of your own pocket.
5. Shop around after an accident
What we mean by this is that it might be a good idea to discuss with a number of different garages about the cost of repair. While in theory, all mechanics should charge similar rates for the same amount of work, this is not always the case. One garage might quote you double the rate of another garage. If you go with that garage, your insurer will usually cover it but it could impact your premiums.
For example, if the insurer has to pay out more on a claim they might turn around and increase your premiums higher than they would with a more affordable garage.
One thing to be aware of here is that some insurers will limit where you can take your vehicle to for repairs. Be sure to read your policy documentation to learn if there are any restrictions on what garage you can use. If there are, it could still help to shop around with the listed garages to get repair quotes.
Luckily, Hong Kong has a variety of insurers offering car insurance plans. If you are looking for an insurer that will work in your best interests and ensure that any premium increases are fair then talk with the advisors at Kwiksure today.