If your vehicle has been damaged in a collision, one of the first things you should do is contact your insurance company, no matter what time it is. Most insurance companies have phone lines that are open 24/7, but you might find that the type of service provided is different outside of typical “business hours.” That’s because late-night or early-morning calls are often handled by external companies that operate differently from internal claims teams. We’ve got answers to some common questions about what you can expect if you get into a collision outside of business hours.
If it’s outside of business hours, do you still have to report the collision to your insurance company right away?
Yes, you should still report a collision to your insurer as soon as it happens, regardless of what time it is or whether or not your vehicle is safe to drive. If your insurer outsources its claims calls after hours, the representative you speak to should be able to log the details of your claim and advise you on what to do next — but generally speaking, they won’t have access to your specific policy information, so they can’t confirm details about your coverage. After your insurer’s office opens again, a claims representative will contact you to get your claim started as soon as possible.
Can you continue driving your vehicle while you wait to hear from your insurance company?
If you get into a collision outside of business hours, you probably won’t be able to get the repair process rolling until your insurer’s office is open again. The good news is you can continue using your vehicle in the meantime, as long as it’s still safe to drive. If you’re planning on driving, you need to be sure that none of your vehicle’s safety features have been compromised. Here are five questions you should answer “yes” to before you get back in your car after a collision:
- Is your vehicle free of fluid leaks?
- Are your headlights and taillights still working properly?
- Are all of your mirrors intact?
- Does steering and braking feel right?
- Is your hood still able to securely close?
If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions or you have another reason to believe your vehicle may not be safe to drive (if the airbags have deployed or there’s damage to the wheels, for example), it’s better to stay off the roads until you can have it inspected by a professional.
What should you do if you have to get your vehicle towed?
If your vehicle is no longer safe to drive, you can either have it towed to one of your insurance company’s preferred repair facilities or a repair facility of your choice. If you’re going to have your vehicle towed, be sure to read the paperwork provided by the driver carefully before you sign it. Make sure that you’re only agreeing to pay to tow your vehicle to the location of your choice, not signing a work order or agreeing to have your vehicle repaired by a specific facility. You should also make sure the quoted cost is reasonable — your insurer’s claims line should be able to look into this for you if you’re not sure. Keep the receipt, as you’ll need to provide it to your insurance company so they can reimburse you if your policy includes coverage for towing.
Can you rent a vehicle while you wait for your insurance company to start processing your claim?
If your vehicle is no longer safe to drive and your insurance policy includes coverage for rental costs following a collision, it’s probably safe to go ahead and rent a vehicle comparable to your own. Most insurance companies will allow you to rent a vehicle until they can return your call and start processing your claim. When their office opens again, your insurer will contact you and give you further instructions.
It’s important to note that these are general rules that many insurance companies follow, but every company and situation is different. Also, the information in this article may not apply if you’ve broken the law or violated any of the terms in your car insurance policy. Review your policy or talk to your licensed broker if you have questions about your own coverage, your insurer’s processes, or what you should do in a specific situation.
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