A Complete Guide of Motor Insurance Claims

In Barbados

It’s important that every Bajan vehicle owner knows what an insurance claim is and how to navigate one. While many people in Barbados leave it up to the insurance company to deal with this information, it is best to be well informed of the process.

This guide explains the insurance claims process from beginning to end.

What is a motor insurance claim?

An auto/motor insurance claim is a request made by the policy holder (you) to the insurance company for compensation. The insurance claim covers damages sustained to the policy holder’s vehicle or to others after being involved in an accident.

But before we go in depth into the claims process, the first step is to understand the different types of insurance coverage and how they may protect you during a motor claim.

Motor Insurance Claims

The basics of motor insurance

Motor insurance is a mandatory type of protection used to protect you and your vehicle. The primary use of insurance is to provide financial protection against damage or serious bodily injuries resulting from a collision either to you or to others. In return, you pay a total sum called a premium for this protection.

There are two main types of motor insurance coverage offered by insurance companies here in Barbados.

Third Party Insurance

This covers your legal liability for any damage you cause to a third party whether it be property damage and or bodily injury. With this type of coverage, you are only responsible for the repairs to your own vehicle.

Comprehensive Insurance

This covers your legal liability for damage you cause to a third party as well as damage to your vehicle. Comprehensive includes third party coverage with additional benefits.

Although not every vehicle may qualify for comprehensive insurance coverage, having some type of insurance coverage, is better than having none. You must also remember it is illegal according to Barbados law to operate a vehicle which is not insured. Doing so will lead to dire consequences if ever involved in an accident.

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What to do if you’re involved in an accident

Below are the steps you should take if you or someone you know has been involved in a vehicle accident:

1. Stay calm: Accidents are very stressful situations. Remain calm as much as possible. You may be a bit shaken up and unaware of your surroundings or what just happened.

2. Make sure everyone is safe: Verify that you and your vehicle’s passengers are safe. In case of injury call the Barbados emergency services at 211 immediately.

3. Evaluate the situation: Turn off your vehicle and assess the situation from inside. Check that there is no incoming traffic and that it is safe to step outside.

4. Get your documents: Gather your documents including driver’s license, insurance certificate and vehicle ownership.

5. Check other people are safe: Verify that other parties involved in the accident are safe and call 211 if needed.

6. Call the police: Take note of your location and call the Barbados police at 511.

What to when involved in a car accident
What to when involved in a car accident

7. Call roadside assistance: Call your insurance roadside assistance at the number located in your insurance certificate or insurance card. Once they arrive at the scene, you will go over the details of the accident. They will then take all the necessary photos and measurements for their own documentation, which goes to assist with your claim. Depending on the insurance coverage you have, you may be entitled to a tow service or even a rental car service.

8. Inspect the damage: While you are waiting, do a quick inspection of the damage. Take some photographs of the situation. Make sure to include both vehicles and take photos from different angles. Include close ups as well as distance photos where you can see the intersections and the road where the accident happened.

9. Get other driver’s details: Take the name, phone number and address of the other drivers, and details of their insurance company.

10. Get witnesses: Ask any witnesses to provide their contact details.

11. Explain the situation to authorities: When the police and the roadside services arrive, explain the situation in detail but do not admit guilt at this point.

12. Notify your insurance provider: They usually have dedicated line for claims that can be found on your insurance document. Explain the situation and send any supporting information and photos to their claims email.

7. Call roadside assistance: Call your insurance roadside assistance at the number located in your insurance certificate or insurance card. Once they arrive at the scene, you will go over the details of the accident. They will then take all the necessary photos and measurements for their own documentation, which goes to assist with your claim. Depending on the insurance coverage you have, you may be entitled to a tow service or even a rental car service.

8. Inspect the damage: While you are waiting, do a quick inspection of the damage. Take some photographs of the situation. Make sure to include both vehicles and take photos from different angles. Include close ups as well as distance photos where you can see the intersections and the road where the accident happened.

9. Get other driver’s details: Take the name, phone number and address of the other drivers, and details of their insurance company.

10. Get witnesses: Ask any witnesses to provide their contact details.

11. Explain the situation to authorities: When the police and the roadside services arrive, explain the situation in detail but do not admit guilt at this point.

12. Notify your insurance provider: They usually have dedicated line for claims that can be found on your insurance document. Explain the situation and send any supporting information and photos to their claims email.

A few extra tips!

Should I move my vehicle?

Another piece of advice; never leave the scene of the accident or try to move your vehicle. For example, the accident may happen in the middle of the highway, which causes a backup of traffic. Often, parties to an accident can be forced by angry road users to move their vehicles to the side and out of the way. However, from the perspective of the company, this is not advised.

Moving your vehicle can cause you and the company further complications during the claims process. Without concrete confirmation from the police or the roadside assistance, it is your word against the other party as to what really happened! If you are uninjured, ,feel free to take photos of the accident before the police arrive.

Should I accept guilt?

Insurance companies often advise their policy holders to never accept liability at the scene of an accident. This can be problematic later and often prolongs the claims process.

Friendly settlement?

In some instances, parties to an accident may opt not to involve the police and come to an agreement to repair the damages independently. Though this is not illegal, it can create a difficult situation for the insurance company and ultimately impact whether your claim is settled. Additionally, the police report can be extremely helpful as you file your claim.

The motor insurance claim process

The claims process can seem long and complicated, but it’s really quite simple for consumers to navigate. A lot goes on behind the scenes to process claims quickly and with minimal hurdles to you or others involved. However, things do get more complicated when the claim includes severe bodily injuries or death.

How long does it take?

Usually a claim will take about one month to resolve, while other times a claim can take up to five years to resolve. It’s important to note that delays are usually not caused by the insurance company, but they’re usually caused by the parties involved in the accident. Most insurance companies try to have all claims settled within a timely manner.

Once the claim has been made to the insurance provider, this is what happens:

1. Initial reporting

Upon reporting back to the office, the roadside assistant will pass your claim onto the team lead or the manager of the claims department. That person will then review the file briefly and assign the claim to one of their qualified claims officers. This claims officer will then be your point of contact and will be responsible for any interactions on your behalf throughout the duration of the claim.

2. Follow-up information

During this process, try to be as cooperative as you can. The claims officer may need to contact you for several reasons to either verify information or see how best they can assist you during this time. We know it is tough.

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3. Internal process

The claims officer liaises with the insurance company of any third parties involved to gather information needed to conclude on the outcome of the claim.

4. Determining who is “at-fault”

What does “at fault” mean? At fault simply means that you are the person who is legally liable for the cause of the accident as opposed to “not at fault”.

When determining the at fault party, the claims officer will review photos of the accident as well as a drawing of the accident scene provided by the authorities and any road signs available in the area as well as measurements taken.

They will also consider the status of the driver. For example, if you were intoxicated at the time of the accident and other minor infractions.

The Final Decision

The claims officer finally has all the information gathered, it is now time to try to arrive at a determination of liability.

If you are proven to be the cause of the accident, your insurance company will require you to pay your deductible and any necessary excess payments. Once paid, your insurance company will then go ahead and repair the damages to your car and that of the not at fault party. Due to this, your insurance premium may be increased.

However, if you are not liable and the other party’s insurer accepts liability, then your insurance company will go ahead and repair the damages to your car. They will then recover those monies from the other party’s insurance company with no increase to your car premium.

Determination of liability in a motor claim

Conclusion

Making an insurance claim can be a dreaded situation. First, you have to deal with the accident itself to then face what may seem a very bureaucratic and lengthy process. However, this guide is here to brake down all the steps involved in a motor claim in Barbados and make the process easier to understand.

About the author:

Jalisa
Jalisa

Jalisa is a Customer Experience Officer and blog contributor at Almi. She is passionate about customer service and helping Barbadians achieve financial prosperity.