If you've just been in a collision, filing an auto insurance claim might be the last thing on your mind. In fact, you might not even know where to start. We understand this and trust us when we say that you're not alone. Every year tons of drivers file claims with their auto insurance companies. Your best bet is to start with your insurance company.
The first conversation you should have after a car accident should be with your agent. There are potential clauses in your policy that require you to notify your insurance agency of the accident promptly. Otherwise, you might waive some of your rights.
Begin by taking proper photos of the accident. Make sure to take pictures of any of the damages and scene so that your insurance company can handle the claim correctly. Also be sure to exchange information with the other drivers, including their driver's license and insurance policy.
You will likely have to give either a written or verbal statement, so be ready for that. If you talked to the police, be sure to ask for a copy of the police report or get the officer's information as well. Lastly, you'll need to provide copies of the auto repair and medical bills (if asked), so be sure to keep copies on hand.
When filing automotive insurance claims, you will find that there are two types: damage to the vehicle and liability. The first type surrounds the loss or damage to your vehicle, while the other deals with injuries or property damage that occurred due to the accident.
An example might include a situation where you were speeding and hit another vehicle. In this scenario, you would be liable for the injuries, as well as any damages that might have taken place. Liability claims can result in a formal lawsuit against you.
Most automotive policies divide your coverage into the following sections:
Drivers can also take advantage of additional coverages such as rental vehicles and/or roadside assistance services, which ensures that you are covered. When in doubt about your policy, contact your insurance provider directly.
Anytime that you file a claim for a loss, your insurance company will likely have a deductible. A deductible is when you pay a specified amount as your half of the cost of repair or replacement. Deductible rates will be discussed when you first sign up for insurance payments and can be adjusted according to whether you want to pay more upfront or less later.
An example of this might occur if your car sustains damages costing $5,000 to repair. If your deductible is $500, you would pay this while your insurance would cover the remaining $4500 balance. Your monthly payment may be lower or higher depending on what you choose your deductible amount to be, so be sure to talk about this with your agent.
A claims adjuster's job is to investigate the claim and make suggestions to the insurance company. After reporting your claim to your insurance agent, a claims adjuster will be contacted.
The adjuster will then begin the settlement process, which is dependent upon the cooperation of the other party and their insurance company. No two claims are the same. Some might become complicated and take a long time to resolve, while others are straightforward.
If your claim is accepted, your insurance agency will either pay the total amount requests, minus part of the claim, or even a partial payment. If your claim is refused, there will be no payment. After filing a claim, be on the lookout for a final decision from your insurance company. You can expect many phone calls and formal letters.
The payouts offered will differ depending on the adjuster's research for your claim. Bear in mind that you can try to negotiate and/or reject the amount offered. If you reject your insurance company's suggested amount, you will need to provide research, proving why a higher payment is needed.
The extra work might be worth it. When in doubt, always get GAP coverage to cover the difference that your primary insurance will not pay! If you have any questions about the claims process, be sure to contact your insurance provider or browse our FAQ.