There are plenty of ways to wreck your insurance claim, most of them in the seconds following an accident. I learned this when a good friend implanted a Nissan into a Honda, and staggered out saying: “Damn, should have stopped at nine beers.” That sentence cost him thousands in the insurance claim. Or maybe it was his later admission that I bet five bucks against his overtaking that Honda. Either way, I learned some valuable lessons that day: First, that the Nissan Sentra has really good seat belts. And second, there are some things you should never do after an accident:
1. Write a Long Individual Statement
There are two forms you need to fill when you’ve been in an accident. You should have a Singapore Accident Statement in your car, which contains an Accident Statement and an Individual Statement. That’s right, this is Singapore, where we care more about your statement than the loose flaps of skin hanging off your face.
Accident Statement –
This is the yellow-blue (and soon to be splotched with red) form that needs to be signed by both drivers. This isn’t an admission of liability, it’s just used to establish the damage. Nothing to worry about.
Individual Statement –
This is the one you need to be careful with. It’s the white form, which requires your signature only. Before you delve into a 30 chapter novel complete with movie rights, know that this where most motorists slip up.
Write an explanation that’s too detailed, and you may write something damaging to yourself. In fact, it’s been shown that the longer the statement, the easier it usually is to find fault with the driver.
All it takes is one careless sentence: Something that suggests you checked the mirrors at the wrong time, or that you could have been more careful on a right turn, and suddenly your claim is shot down like a sick pigeon in a no-fly zone. On top of that, a wordy statement gives your insurer the chance to, uh, “selectively misinterpret” what you’ve written.
So unless you’re an expert at composition, keep your individual statement brief. If your insurer needs more detail, make them call and talk to you instead.
2. Say You’re Fine Before Seeing the Doctor
Make sure you get a thorough check-up before stating you’re fine. This includes your response to the police: When they ask if you’re injured, say you’re not sure and you should see a doctor first.
Some injuries may not show up immediately. Two days post-accident, that slight back ache may turn out to be a full blown hernia, and a throbbing wrist might actually be fractured. But if you try claiming for these after the accident, insurers might insist the injuries are unrelated. After all, you said, in black and white, that you were fine.
Obviously, this is also important if you intend to file a civil suit. Good luck trying to relate injuries that show up a week later (like sprains). You’d have better chances of convincing a priest to snort coke on camera.
3. Forget to Take a Picture
It’s easy to forget the old camera-phone, especially when your brain’s just contacted the inside of your skull at 80 kph. But if you can manage it, you really need a picture.
Insurers will look at the angle of impact, the probable speed you were driving at, the state of the intersection where it happened, etc. As far as possible, try to match the pictures to your individual statement. So if you claim that someone rammed into the back of your car, be sure to take a shot of their front bumper as well as the remains of your boot.
Pro tip: Leave out the smiling “thumbs up” pictures of you next to the wreck.
4. Don’t Be The Driver
Your car insurance covers a named driver, and maybe one or two others. If you’re not the one driving during a car accident, two things can happen:
- You get nothing, because the driver isn’t recognized
- The excess is different, because it’s another named driver
The excess is the amount of damages you have to pay yourself. This amount varies based on the driver, but in most cases, it’s higher if it’s not you. I’m going to translate this to a practical example, one that’s relevant to a lot of local motorists:
Say you’re going to pub with friends, and fully intend to drink till you can’t tell your face from the floor. You won’t be fit to puke straight when you’re done, let alone drive. But hey, you have a car. So which is a better solution:
(A) Take a cab, or (B) pick a designated driver for your car, who is not you.
See where I’m going here? Don’t be a cheapskate. Fork out the cab fare. And besides, no one wants to be the designated driver.
5. Flat Out Lie
A lot of insurance claims get rejected because of flat out lying. If you claim the grandma in a Volkswagen “sadistically attempted to run me off the road”, you can expect your insurer’s bull manure alarms to go off.
Exaggeration and flat out lies aren’t only grounds for rejection. They put your insurer on full alert, because now, they know they can’t trust you. Get caught and you can expect higher premiums, or a straight up refusal to continue your policy.
Want a More Reliable Insurer?
Aside from your own actions, a successful claim depends on having a good insurer. Your premiums, policy terms, and driving record all play a role in getting that claim approved. To find a policy that will give you the best protection, visit MoneySmart. This free website will find the most appropriate motor insurance for you.
Just enter your car details and the coverage you’re looking for, and you’re good to go. SmartInsurance also has motor insurance experts on hand, who can give you further advice.
Have you ever had a car insurance claim rejected? Comment and tell us what happened!