In this article I will answer how to report an accident to an insurance company in Florida. First, whether or not a particular insurance policy applies depends on the policy language and clauses, and to some extent Florida law. If you’re not sure if there is coverage, it’s best to submit a claim to ALL possible insurance companies.
If the insurance company believes the accident is not covered, or should be denied, make them place that answer in writing. Always seek to make sure that what is told to you is put in writing. If this isn’t done, and you are answered telephonically, as a minimum do what Florida accident attorneys do, write a “confirming” letter regarding important issues.
For example, write an insurance company, “This is to confirm our telephone conversation of the date, wherein you and I spoke and you indicated A, B, and C. If this is NOT accurate, or not your recollection, please write me back immediately and correct my misunderstanding.” This helps because it not only memorializes the conversation, but it puts the responsibility on the insurance company that if they do not act or write to correct this, then things will be considered to have been as you described in your letter.
Also, it is often recommended to send materials to insurance companies via fax and certified mail, return receipt. Retaining and attaching to the correspondence the receipt, for use later as proof of notice and knowledge of the matter, if forced into litigation. Insurance companies as well as attorneys for that matter, often have “selective memory.” Remember, often you can tell if an insurance adjuster is lying if their lips are moving! Everything needs to be in writing to fully protect you. If it is not, if later the case goes to trial; in court an insurance company can later deny it. I always say, “if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen.” Under Florida law, oral modifications to a written contract generally have no bearing and are not admissible. This is called the “parol evidence rule.” I can’t say it enough; always document your accident claim, and any potential future lawsuit, as in depth as possible to avoid any future issues.
Giving proper notice to any and all involved insurance companies is critical, and required in every insurance contract. Insurance companies mandate that they be put on notice of claims (or potential claims) so that they may properly investigate, preserve evidence, take photos and witness statements, etc. There are many pieces of vital information available at the beginning of a case, that might disappear later. Insurance companies have a right to preserve evidence, investigate claims, and put on a defense. Their rights can be affected by not giving them appropriate notice, and failing to do so is a sure fire way to have you claim denied. Always, put insurance companies on notice, in writing, at your earliest opportunity. This is especially true if it’s your own insurance company. If you have problems locating an insurance company or their claims office, a Florida accident attorney is an excellent source in helping you find them.
Placing insurance companies on notice is as simple as giving them all the important facts. What happened, when, where, and if it’s a car accident claim, the other driver’s insurance information. If you turn over a copy of the police report, you’re likely to have satisfied your notice requirement.
As a side note, a police report filled out by the officer is inadmissible hearsay and cannot be used at trial – unless statements are made by the other party, directly to the officer. This is called the “party opponent” exception to the hearsay rule. The reason for this is because the officer was not there during the accident. Generally, witnesses can only testify as to what they personally observed. The only exception to this would be if the office actually observed the accident. While this is rare, it does occasionally happen. For example, I had a case where a car accident happened at an intersection where a police officer was stopped. Because the officer personally observed the crash, the information in his report was admissible and could be used at trial.
At this point, it’s important to make a couple of observations. First, just because many references have been made to car accidents, it does not mean that these ideas and principles will not, or do not, apply equally to other areas of the law and insurance policies (i.e. slip and falls, produce liability, etc.). Secondly, it is extremely important to spend a little time learning what the appropriate policies of insurance are, or may be involving your case and claim; what their provisions are and how they may be used to your benefit.
This is so critical and vital to every accident case in Florida. Probably only half of the Florida accident attorneys out there do not do an adequate job of this in one way or another. This one step can pay off in so many ways: it can inform you of the ultimate amounts you may be able to recover; if there are any prohibitory clauses; if the polls allow stacking; if there are doubling provisions or medical payments coverage; and a ton of other things. If you are handling your claim on your own, without a good Florida accident attorney, then you need to do your homework first! Learn what the insurance policy covers and which provisions apply!
If you have questions about how to report an accident to an insurance company in Florida feel free to browse our other articles on this subject. Also, check out our blog at longofirmblog.com and please don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more interesting content!
The Longo Firm, P.A.
Micah J. Longo
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel: (954) 862-3608
Fax: (954) 944-1916