If you have purchased a leased car, or have been in an accident in a leased car, then this post will highlight the insurance claims process which you need to initiate immediately.
Inspect the Scene — Gather Evidence
Once you have made sure that you and other drivers/passengers/passerby are safe in unharmed, or contacting the emergency services in case someone is, your first priority is to collect as much evidence as possible.
Contacting the Local Authorities
Contact the local police and law enforcement department to respond to the accident. This will allow you to thoroughly document the accident scene, officially interview any witness, and eventually write up a police report — the official legal document that the insurance company is most likely to inquire. Given that the biggest issue with any accident is the age old question “Whose insurance company will pay the bill?”, an official report helps eliminate this and other legal issues.
Exchange Information with Other Drivers and Witnesses
Important information that must be exchanged includes driving license numbers, car license numbers, insurance information, and contact details. You will be asked this information later on as you report the accident.
Nothing beats photographic evidence, and given the increase in car insurance claims over the years, it significantly boosts the speed of the whole process. Hence, if you have the opportunity, take multiple photographs detailing the scene of the accident, especially the positions of the vehicles and the damage caused.
Reporting the Accident
Start by reporting to the insurance company as most lease agreements have provisions requiring you to notify the car dealership or leasing agency. Apart from the legal matters, the reason why you should notify the leasing company/dealership is that the company might have set some specific repairs requirements of its own. Examples include repairing only with original factory parts and not allowing repairs with aftermarket parts. Failure to comply will automatically result in financial penalties (read paying from your pocket).
Apart from the leasing agency, inform the insurance agency yourself as the insurance policy itself may have the legal language implying that you inform them of the accident immediately.
Procrastination can get you into all sort of legal troubles.
What happens After You’ve Reported the Accident — The Follow Up
The insurance company will set up appointment with their claims adjuster, sending him/her to your location to inspect the damage, or else direct you to a local body shop for an estimate. Afterwards, the company will instruct you on the repairs.
Pursuing a Claim Over the Accident — Some considerations
Following the whole process through both the leasing and insurance agency can be time consuming. But if you believe that the other driver was at fault for the accident, then you can pursue the claim as if you owned the car outright. In such case you can directly contact the other driver’s insurance company (once you have contacted your insurance company and the leasing agency/dealership.
The insurance company can either accept the claim or dispute it. In case it is accepted, you will be directed to get the estimates. In case it is disputed, you can either sue the other driver or else let your leasing agency and insurance company do the talking.
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