How to File a Car Insurance Claim

Fran
Fran Majidi
July 23, 2019

Filing an insurance claim is something many people do in their lifetime, sometimes multiple times. Hopefully, you’re not one of these people but if you are, there are some things you should keep in mind even before you embark on filling out an insurance claim form. It’s important to speak with the police and your insurance agent right after an accident, whether it’s your fault or not. But even before speaking with your agent, you should be aware of a few things. We’re here to show you how to file an insurance claim and get back on your feet after an accident.  

Call the Police

Even before you speak with your agent, you should contact the police, whether it was a mild fender bender or a major collision. It’s not unheard of for people to part ways amicably only to find out that a claim was filed against them by a third party without the police ever being notified. Without an impartial third party (the police) to document the accident, you may get slapped with a serious claim for damages you didn’t even cause. We can’t stress the importance of calling the police to come to the scene of any accident, big or small. 

You should also contact the police if your car was vandalized or stolen or if your car was damaged by fire, a natural disaster or any other peril that doesn’t involve a collision. If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you’ll also need to contact the authorities and file a police report in order to get compensation from your insurer.

Compile Contact Info 

Avoid taking or placing blame. Simply give as much information to the police as you can and exchange contact information with witnesses and the other driver as well as the information on the passengers of the other vehicle.

The Police Report

If you’re wondering how to file an insurance claim against someone, this is the most important step. Without a police report, you can’t file an insurance claim. Avoid admitting guilt even if you feel the accident was your fault. Your insurer will represent you in a settlement and you don’t want to jeopardize the case they will make on your behalf. 

Contact Your Insurer

After you have all pertinent information, call your agent or call your auto insurance company phone number that is printed on the front of your insurance ID card. You will need all the information on the card to file the claim over the phone. Your vehicle information number (VIN) is also on this card so keep it handy. Don’t have your car towed anywhere until you speak with your insurer or agent first. They may guarantee work at specific garages in your location.

Claims Specialist

After your information is processed, you may be contacted by a claims adjustor, who will call you to discuss the accident in greater detail. You should also discuss your physical injuries with your adjuster, if you have any. 

The claims professional will be the person who represents you in discussions with the third party or parties. They will go over your auto insurance coverages with you first and explain how they can help you. If you have car rental insurance, they will expedite that for you if you’re covered. Your car will likely be inspected later by the insurance company. If your car is in the garage, the adjuster will speak with the people at the shop to discuss the estimate for repairs. Some insurers like to have you use certain garages for repairs so make sure to find out that information right away.

How Long Do You Have to File an Insurance Claim?

Most policies do not have specific deadlines or time frames for filing an insurance claim. However, you are expected to do it right away or within a reasonable time frame. Instead of asking yourself how long to file an auto insurance claim against someone, just contact your agent right away, even if the accident was clearly your fault. In some no-fault states, you need to file an insurance claim within a time frame. For example, in New York you have within 30 days of the accident. The sooner you do this the better and the higher chances that you’ll get covered.

What if the Accident Was My Fault and I Didn’t Have Collision Insurance?

Unfortunately, if the accident was your fault, you’re not covered.unless you had collision or comprehensive insurance to cover losses based on your car’s value. Even if your car was stolen, you wouldn’t be paid out for the value of the car unless you had comprehensive coverage on the vehicle. Also, if your car was worth less than what you owe on it, you wouldn’t be covered for the amount over the value of the car unless you had gap insurance.

Problems with a Claim

If your adjuster is not giving you the coverage you believe you have, ask to be contacted with a claims service supervisor. If your insurer is giving you poor service and you believe you’ve been wronged, you have a few other options. You can contact your state commissioners office or hire an attorney to handle your case. However, the easiest way to put this past you is to find a new agent and insurer. You can get free car insurance quotes by visiting here, and you’ll be put in touch with an agent who can give you the service you deserve.

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