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How to File a Car Insurance Claim?

Updated: Apr 24, 2022

Car insurance Policy

Car insurance Policy is a contract or agreement between you and the insurance company which protects your finance against a theft, an accident or any other natural causes or destruction of your insured car. The company agrees to pay a certain insured amount if any mishap happens to your car as outlined in the policy. The coverage includes Property damage, Liability or any medical bills.

Car Insurance Claim

Car insurance claim is a process in which you as a policy holder will submit a request to the car insurance company for the financial loss compensation for the injury or damage caused by a car accident that is covered by your insurance policy. Some insurance company may rise the premiums depending on who is at fault in the incident, amount claimed, driving history and other details of the incident. While the process may vary by state, insurance provider and insurance policy, some basic steps in the claiming process are same.

How to File a Car Insurance Claim?
How to File a Car Insurance Claim?

When to file an insurance claim?

It is important to go through your policy, coverage limits and deductible ( Deductible is the amount that you are obligated to pay before the policy kicks in) and then discuss with an insurance company. It is usually advisable to file an insurance claim when it will help cover the cost of damage or injuries you caused, in the cases where you don't know who is at fault when involved in an accident, tree falls down on the car, car is stolen or vandalized.

If you decide to settle an agreement on your own with another driver involved in the accident, you may be running the risk of being sued if the other driver finds out that the damage is more than the financial settlement agreed. There might be problems or damages more than what it seems. Filing a claim with Insurance company may also help in covering legal costs arising out of accidents too.

Some people prefer to cover the cost of the damage out of their pocket if it is minor and doesn't involve anyone else, for example, your fender got hit on the pole while backing out at your home. They prefer to do it this way so that their insurance premiums would not go up.

Car Insurance Coverage
Car Insurance Coverage

How to file a car insurance claim?

Call First responders, Police and Insurance Company

As soon as you are met with an accident, call First responders if anyone is need of medical assistance. Call the police and inform about the incident as many insurance companies will be requiring you to submit the police report as a "Proof of Claim" on the accident. Call the insurance company as soon as you can or even at the place of accident itself to notify the insurance provider. In California, the DMV requires to inform about the car accident within 10 days of occurrence if someone had an injury ( doesn't matter how small it is) or there is a property damage of more than $1000.

Collect information

It is very important to record all the details of the incident for claiming process.

  • Name, address and ID has to be exchanged within the people involved.

  • Location, date and time of accident must be noted, some even note the weather conditions.

  • Insurance policy and policy number has to be exchanged within the people involved.

  • Note down the Name and badge number of police professional who responded to the incident in case any follow up is needed in future.

  • Note down any injuries caused to you or to other people involved.

  • Take a lot of pictures of the vehicle or property damaged from different angles as a proof for an insurance claim.

  • Note down the license plate, make, model and year of the vehicles involved in an incident.

  • If a vehicle is stolen or vandalized, give the police officer as much description possible and the items present in your car during the incident. It might be covered by your Auto insurance or homeowners policy depending upon the policy.

  • Keep the receipts of towing vehicles and other assistance safe as it might by covered by your insurance.

  • Note the conversations that you had with the people involved in the incident.

Filing a Claim

When you called the insurance company regarding the incident, you most likely opened a case for filing process and ask the company about the timeline of the claiming process as most insurance companies have a time limit to submit their claims. The deadline for submitting for claims may vary upon the state, reason for claims such as vehicle damage, property damage, injury etc

You can also get an idea of what reimbursements are included in the policy as some policy covers rental car reimbursements until your car is repaired or ready to use. Once you have all the documents that the insurance provider needs for the claim is ready, submit it right away.

Types of Coverages
Types of Coverages

What happens after you file a claim?

Once the claim has been filed, the claims adjuster or appraiser will take a look at the damage and estimate the amount to be reimbursed on the claim. For example, if a car has a lot of damage, the claims adjuster might estimate a value for repairs and give a list of auto body repair shops nearby. Then, they either deal with the auto body repair shop directly or may allow you to take care of the bills and reimburse you later. If the car is beyond repair or the repair amount is more than the original car value itself, then they may estimate the current market value of the car and reimburse the amount to you. After the car has been repaired or reimbursed, check with the insurance company to finalize all the paperwork and close the claim.

Every situation is unique, so it is very important to get in touch with the insurance company to get an idea about pros and cons of filing a claim as the process varies upon the state, insurance provider, policy, amount of deductible, type of coverage you have etc. The events and items covered by your insurance policy differs based on your policy and insurance provider. The conditions and limitations of the coverage vary upon your specific policy.

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