You’ve seen the commercials; your insurance company is full of smiling, helpful good neighbours, just waiting to help you in your time of need. But when you’ve had an auto accident, and it’s time to make an insurance claim, you find the whole process a lot less neighbourly, a lot more difficult, and even combative. Where can you find help? You might try calling your broker, but most brokers aren’t independent and may not have your best interests at heart. And even if you have an independent broker who cares about you, he or she is unlikely to know and understand all of the legal issues with making a claim.
Already tired of and frustrated with your claim? Call us now for help.
Consultations are always free, and we don’t get paid until you do. Or read on to understand the ins and outs of making an automobile accident insurance claim in Alberta.
One Accident, Multiple Claims
When you have an automobile accident in Alberta – car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, or any accident involving a vehicle – there are 3 possible separate insurance claims that can happen as a result:
When accidents happen, there is often damage to personal property. In many cases, the property is the vehicle – a car, truck, motorcycle, or bicycle. There may be damage to property inside a vehicle, such as sunglasses or a laptop, that get damaged in the course of the accident. If you’re a pedestrian, there can be damage to your clothes or shoes. In all of these cases, a property damage claim is the insurance claim needed to get the items replaced or repaired, or to get the equivalent cash value of the items. If a vehicle is repaired, its resale value may be lower because of the accident, and you may be able to make a claim for the difference in price, also known as a diminished value claim.
Accident Benefits or Section B Benefits
In Alberta, Section B Benefits are insurance benefits for people who are injured in automobile accidents, or who have loved ones who were injured or killed in automobile accidents. Automobile insurance companies often call them Accident Benefits, but because they come from Section B of the Alberta Standard Automobile Policy, they are commonly known as Section B Benefits. Every Alberta automobile insurance policy must contain a Section B clause.
Section B benefits are “no-fault” benefits, meaning that you can claim them whether or not you were at fault for the automobile accident that caused your injuries. These benefits cover certain expenses related to medical treatments, disability, and death. They are contractual, meaning that the owner of an Alberta automobile insurance policy has paid for Section B Benefits as part of his or her insurance premiums.
If you have an Alberta automobile insurance policy, and were injured in an automobile accident (car, truck, motorcycle, etc.), you can claim Section B Benefits. Your own automobile insurance company will typically, but not always, be the source of these benefits.
If you are injured in an automobile accident, and you’re not at fault or only partially at fault, you can make a claim for compensation in the form of money for your injuries, and losses and expenses related to those injuries. You make that claim through the insurance company of the person or entity (such as a company) responsible. If more than one person or entity is responsible, the claim is made simultaneously against all of them, and the insurance companies for each person or entity will open a claim. In the case that one or more of the at-fault persons or entities do not have insurance, you will likely still be able to make a claim through this program.
Who Do I Speak to at the Insurance Company?
When you’ve been involved in an auto accident, your first call is usually to the claims department of your own insurance company. If your property was damaged but you weren’t injured, they will only open a Property Damage claim. If you were injured, they will also open an Accident Benefits or Section B claim. Once your claims are open, the insurance company will assign an insurance adjuster to each claim. An insurance adjuster, also known as a claims adjuster, is a person hired by an insurance company to investigate insurance claims and determine if the company has to pay out money for the claim and if so, how much. Because each claim is separate, you will speak to a different person for each type:
- A Property Damage (PD) Adjuster;
- An Accident Benefits (AB) or Section B adjuster; and
- A Bodily Injury (BI) Adjuster
The circumstances of your accident determine how many different adjusters you speak to, and what insurance company they work for. If you have what’s known as collision coverage on your vehicle and it is involved in an accident, whether it was your fault or not, you will make your property damage claim through your own insurance company and will therefore speak to a PD adjuster from that company. If you are in an accident in your own vehicle, unless you are driving without insurance, you will always make your Accident Benefits or Section B claim through your own insurance company, and speak to an AB or Section B adjuster from that company. If you were injured in an accident and it wasn’t your fault or entirely your fault, you will almost always speak to a BI adjuster from the insurance company of the person or entity at fault. If more than one person or entity was at fault, you may have to speak to multiple BI adjusters.
In many cases involving property damage, there is a deductible, which is an amount specified in the insurance contract that the policy owner agrees to pay out of his or her own pocket toward the claim before insurance kicks in. Deductibles normally range from $250 to $1000 dollars. In cases where your property is damaged by something other than an accident, such as fire, theft, or vandalism, you can only make a claim for the damage if you have what’s known as comprehensive coverage, and you will always have to pay the deductible. In cases where your property is damaged, and it’s not your fault, as long as the other person or persons have insurance you won’t have to pay the deductible. Deductibles never apply to Accident Benefits or Bodily Injury claims.
We Will Help
Don’t enjoy talking to insurance adjusters? Worried that what you say might be held against you? Concerned that the insurance company is only looking out for themselves? We get it. And we’re here to help. All the different companies and claims are hard to keep track of and manage. Legalese and jargon are confusing. That’s why we do what we do: to help you cut through all the confusion and noise, and make insurance claims simple. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you don’t want to worry about deductibles, adjusters, insurance forms, and who pays for what. One call to us gets you the tools you need to go up against your well-funded opponents, the insurance companies. We’ve got a team of insurance experts eager to shorten your to-do list, so you can focus on your health and your family. We explain and help fill out complicated insurance forms, and guide you through the process of taking them to your doctor or submitting them to your insurer. For every conversation with an insurer that you’re not required to have, we’ll take care of it. Most injury lawyers only work on your injury claim. We work to get you the best possible settlement for all of your claims: property damage, accident benefits, and injury. Best of all, we don’t get paid until you get paid. Call us today for your free consultation, and let us take a load off your shoulders.