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Nov 15, 2010 10:06 PM by Jeannette Hynes

It may take months for insurance claims in I-25 pileup

Monday morning's pileup on I-25 near Larkspur has started a chain reaction of insurance assessments, claims, and paperwork.

"The insurance companies are going to look at who caused the damage to which cars. How many cars are you responsible for?" explains Rob Edgin, an insurance agent for American National Insurance.

That process could take weeks, even months, to sort out the fault for the 34-car pileup.  Insurance companies will look at police reports, but they'll also be on the phone with witnesses, drivers, and plenty of other insurance companies to figure out who's at fault and who will pay.

The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association has the following dos and don'ts if you're involved in a car crash:


Assess the situation

•Injuries? Stay put, and call 911 immediately.
•Determine if vehicles are drivable.
•Determine if drugs or alcohol are involved.

Move your car to a safe place

•If your car is drivable and there are no injuries, drugs or alcohol involved, then move it to the shoulder, an emergency pullout, or off-ramp shoulder.

Call 911

•Notify the 911 operator of your accident and location. Look for visible mile markers or exit signs.

Exchange information

•Name, address, phone number, driver's license number, license plate number, vehicle make, model, year, color, insurance carrier and policy number.

Report the accident

•Write down what happened as soon as possible.
•Photos and diagrams are helpful.
•Report the accident as required by law enforcement and your insurance provider.

•Move any injured persons.
•Apologize for the accident.
•Tell any party how much insurance you carry.
•Accept any money. If you do, you forfeit your right to file a claim.
•Agree to forget about the accident. Later on, the other person may file
a lawsuit against you.

Future insurance premiums for the at-fault drivers will likely go up, but Edgin says an insurance company only looks at fault to assess the increase, not at the dollar amount of the damage done. 

Edgin also advises for people to check with their local agent about making sure they have proper coverage.  Review your policy for uninsured motorists and how much liability coverage you have. 

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