How to File a Vehicle Insurance Claim After an Accident?

When you have an accident, whether someone is injured, there is serious damage to the car or property involved, or the event is a simple fender dent, you should file an auto insurance claim for coverage.

  • If you live in error-free statusYou will file with your insurance company.
  • If you are at fault, you will file with the erring driver’s insurance company.

Either way, it’s best to involve your insurance company up front so they can become your advocate. No matter who you end up making a claim with, things need to happen during the process.

What to Do Immediately After an Accident?

1. Call the police.

Call the police immediately after the accident, or have someone else do it for you. Police will ensure that emergency personnel are on the scene. They will also file a police report, which you will want a copy of.

2. Gather information at the scene.

You or others should collect as much information as possible.

  • Name, driver’s license number, license plate number and all other driver’s contact information.
  • If there are witnesses to the accident, get their names and contact information.
  • Record the year, make and model of the car involved.
  • Write down how many people are in each car.
  • Get auto insurance information, including policy numbers, for other drivers involved.
  • Take photos of the damage to both cars and, if you are injured in any way, have someone take photos of your injuries.
  • Write down where the accident occurred and what happened.

3. Contact your insurance company.

Notify your insurance company at the scene if possible. They can provide guidance and help arrange things like calling a tow service and getting a rental car. Your insurance company will open the claims file and set the insurance manager for the case.

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4. File an accident report with DMV, at the scene if necessary.

State laws differ, but your state may have laws regarding accident reporting. Your insurance agent can advise you on your state’s requirements. You can also contact state insurance commissioner office.

What not to do?

At the scene, avoid doing or saying anything at the scene that could hinder a future auto insurance claim:

  • Not admitting mistakes or apologizing.
  • Avoid discussing the details of your insurance coverage.
  • Do not agree to a personal settlement at the scene.

How Does Your Claims Adjustment Help Your Vehicle Insurance Claim?

The insurance claim adjuster assigned to your case can be a great resource after an accident, and can answer any questions you may have about your auto insurance claim. Adjusters can help in a number of ways including:

  • Facilitate your claim
  • Check your car and assess the damage
  • Communicating with other drivers’ insurance companies and other third parties
  • Recommend garages for repairs, or let you know if a specific garage is needed
  • Review the estimated cost of the workshop for repairs
  • Arrange a rental car while your car is under repair, if the rental is covered by your policy

Repair Your Vehicle

Once the repair estimate is approved by your insurance company, you’ll know how much you’ll be paying, which will depend on your deduction. You will also be notified of what repairs were approved. If your insurance policy covers it, you will have a rental car to drive until you can drive your own car again.

If Your Car Loss Total

Sometimes the damage to a car costs more than it’s worth. If your car is in total loss, your insurance company may pay you a lump sum for the car’s estimated value before the accident. Gap coverage, if you included it when you purchased insurance, will pay for the difference between the actual cash value of your car and the balance you still owe on the loan or lease.

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When Should You File a Claim?

Some typical scenarios that can drive your decision whether to notify your insurance company of an accident include:

1. The incident involved another car.

Some people make deals and pay for other people’s repairs so they won’t get errors in their insurance records. But this is a risky move. You never know if other people will sue in the future, especially for physical issues after the fact. Your liability insurance will cover your legal defense, so keep your provider connected.

2. You caused considerable damage to your own car.

If the cost of repairing your car is more than your deductible, or if the total cost will be beyond your means, tell your broker or insurance company.

When Should You NOT File a Claim?

1. If you do not have collision coverage on your policy.

Even if you have liability coverage, if you don’t buy collision protection either, there’s no point in applying because it won’t be covered.

2. You caused minor damage to your own car and the repair was minimal.

If you dent your car and no one else is involved and the repair costs are less than deductible, go ahead and pay for the repair yourself without filing. Some may decide to live with dents or damage.

Do Rates Always Go Up When You Make a Claim?

While your premium usually goes up after making a claim, you may not be affected. It depends on your provider and what your claim history is like. If insurance company regulations allow and you have a clean claims record, you may not see your rates go up.

Before you need to decide whether or not to make a car insurance claim, ask your broker or insurance provider how much they usually raise rates after a claim, a process called a surcharge schedule.

When Your Claim Is Resolved

If for any reason you are dissatisfied with the adjuster you work with or the services provided to you, it may be time to change your insurance. In this case, do your homework and compare the costs and coverage offered by other insurance companies.

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