Merely thinking of any of the words we are about to discuss may cause severe discomfort. No one likes to hear about someone being injured, physically or emotionally. Yet, when it comes to insurance claims, your word choice is very important. Let's take a look at the different types of accidents one may (unfortunately) experience and why using such words may hurt your claim:
Fender-Bender or Rear End
This is without a doubt, the most common type of accident. One vehicle fails to stop and inevitably crashes into the rear of the driver in front of them.
What You Say: "It was just a simple fender-bender."
What the Adjuster Hears: "Oh, not another one. This claim is probably not even worth my time since the only damage is on the bumper and you're probably not injured."
But, anyone who has been in a rear-end collision knows that the repairs to the vehicle and medical services needed as a result can still be quite the costly sum. So that you can recover fully, it is important to avoid belittling terminology such as fender-bender and convey to the insurance company exactly how it felt for you--traumatizing.
Hit and Run
Once again a fairly common occurrence, the defining characteristics of a hit-and-run accident are a collision between two or more vehicles with one of the vehicles (most likely the one at fault) fleeing away immediately afterwards.
What You Say: "I've been a victim of a hit and run accident."
What the Adjuster Hears: "You have no proof that another driver caused the damage since we do not have another vehicle to inspect."
A hit and run accident can vary in severity - from a minor scrape caused by an unaware driver to serious property damage and bodily injury that the at-fault driver refuses to accept responsibility. Be sure to go into great detail about all of the damages or else the adjuster will fill in the blanks himself.
A sideswipe is defined as "to hit one motor vehicle with the side of another motor vehicle." Maybe one driver was trying to change lanes and someone was in his blind spot, or, overreacting to a road hazard, the driver swerves to the next lane right into an adjacent car.
What You Say: "A car just sideswiped me out of nowhere."
What the Adjuster Hears: "You were maybe out of lane when someone else caused limited damage to one side of your car."
Just as it sounds, a head-on collision occurs when two vehicles going in opposite directions impact forcefully. Without knowing the details, everyone considers this type of accident as the most serious because of the inherent risk to the drivers.
In 2005, head-on collisions accounted for only 2% of all accidents, but 10% of US fatal crashes. They are just as likely to be total losses (See more information here). These nasty accidents are well defined by the word "head-on collision" and, in our experience, most people flinch upon hearing someone undergo such a terrible tragedy.
What You Say: "It was a head-on collision."
What the Adjuster Hears: "I'm going to be dealing with this case for years to come because of all the property damage and bodily injury. Maybe I can just find a way to blame the other driver and avoid all this trouble. "
Considered a "lane-departure crash," the at-fault driver is the one who drives out of lane. If you claim that neither driver left their lane, then a head-on collision would be impossible. This statement makes you seem guilty and could prevent you from recovering fully.
As it turns out, your vocabulary is very important when it comes to insurance claims. To make sure that you don't misspeak when talking to an adjuster, leave that part to an attorney, a wordsmith whose job is to make adjusters understand the extremity of your situation and increase your compensation.
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