How to File an Auto Insurance Claim

If your vehicle was damaged by another driver, file an auto insurance claim. Before doing so, though, carefully read through your policy to understand how filing claims might impact your rates.

Exchange information with the other driver, including their name, insurance company and policy number. You should also take photographs of any damage done.

Gathering Evidence

Success of any car accident claim lies with the evidence you can present and is why collecting and preserving car accident evidence as soon as possible is so critical – memories fade, physical evidence can vanish and witnesses become harder to locate as time progresses.

Document the scene as soon as it is safe to do so by taking photographs and sketching simple diagrams to show how it occurred. Also gather names, addresses, and contact information of eyewitnesses so their statements may bolster your version of events, corroborate other witnesses’ accounts, or help establish liability for an accident.

Take note of the license plate number of the other driver and photograph their insurance policy card, noting its expiration date, so you can file a police report determining fault and damages. Also keep a file with all medical bills, receipts and documentation related to injuries sustained and losses sustained as soon as possible.

Contacting Your Insurance Company

Once you’ve amassed all the required information and are prepared to file a claim, contact your insurance provider immediately so they can begin the evaluation of your claim and determining fault.

When speaking to your insurance provider about an accident, be sure to state all facts as accurately as possible. Avoid speculation on who was at fault and do not discuss what occurred unless asked for an official statement.

Your insurer will appoint an adjuster or multiple adjusters to review your claim, including possibly inspecting your vehicle, reviewing police reports or interviewing witnesses. It is important to keep track of all communications with them – names of adjusters you speak with as well as copies of bills related to the accident should all be maintained for future reference.

Be sure to review your policy early, so that you are familiar with its requirements and limits before needing to file a claim. Remember, depending on the nature of your claim, premiums could increase significantly.

Filing a Claim

Once you have collected all the necessary information, it’s time to file your claim. You may do this via phone or increasingly online; just provide all the relevant details about what happened and why you require compensation.

As you communicate with your insurance company, it is crucial to remain calm and be completely transparent with them. Now is not the time for placing blame or engaging in disputes between other parties involved.

If the damage you experienced was less than your policy deductible and no one else was involved, filing a claim may not be necessary; however, reporting it to police remains necessary. If filing an insurance claim does become necessary, an adjuster will be assigned to review your information and decide how much compensation should be granted depending on your coverages; this could take some time depending on any disputes over fault or the severity of damages sustained.

Recovering Money

Your insurance company will attempt to recover the deductible through subrogation, usually by contacting the other driver’s provider and recovering money directly from them. If that fails, an attorney could run credit and asset checks against them before seeking subrogation proceedings against them.

Friedlander notes that when an owner owns their vehicle outright, their claim check usually goes directly to them; whereas with loans and lease agreements, the insurer may send two checks; state regulations may play a part in how these checks are distributed.

If you’re in the market for auto insurance, make sure to read customer reviews of national and local providers, check its A.M. Best rating, compare rates from these providers, and make an informed decision based on customer service, financial strength ratings and reputational considerations.

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