Tips for dealing with winter weather crashes

More than 2,300 vehicular collisions were handled by the S.C. Highway Patrol during last weekend's wintry weather. The 2,346 collisions for Feb. 12-14 were 1,548 more than the total for the previous weekend (Feb. 5-7), when the weather was not so inclement, the patrol reported.

If your car or truck was involved in a crash, the S.C. Insurance News Service offers the following tips for filing an auto insurance claim:

1. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible, regardless of who is at fault, the Insurance Information Institute advises. Find out whether you are covered for any loss. Even if the damage appears minor, it is important to let your insurance company know about the incident.

2. Ask your insurance agent how to proceed. Find out what forms or documents are required. Your insurance company will require a proof of claim form and a copy of the police report, if there is one.

3. Give your insurance company the information requested. Fill out the claim form carefully and accurately. Keep good records, and get the names and phone numbers of anyone you speak with. Get copies of bills related to the accident.

4. Ask your insurance agent or company representative the following:

• Does my policy contain a time limit for filing claims and submitting bills?
• Is there a time limit for resolving claims disputes?
• If I need to submit additional information, is there a deadline?
• When can I expect the insurance company to contact me?
• Do I need to get repair estimates for the damage to my car?
• Will my policy pay for a rental car while my car is being repaired? If so, how much?

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For more than 30 years, the South Carolina Insurance News Service, a nonprofit organization, has been providing free insurance information to consumers and the media about property and casualty insurance issues. The News Service is funded by insurance companies doing business in South Carolina.