Getting into an accident can be frightening and overwhelming. As soon as you can, however, it’s important to start the claims process with the insurance company. Understanding how the process works and what you can expect can make filing an insurance claim easier and less stressful. Here are five important things you should know about filing a claim.
#1. File a Claim As Soon as Possible
It’s a good idea to file the claim as soon as possible. Most car insurance policies do not have a strict deadline for filing a claim but do require that a claim is filed promptly or within a “reasonable amount of time.” Some states do limit the time you have to file a claim, however.
Filing promptly helps the insurance company investigate your claim, but it also protects you. The sooner you file your claim, the sooner you can receive the compensation you need to get your car repaired and pay medical bills.
#2. You Will Need to Work with the Adjuster
After filing your claim, the insurance adjuster will investigate the accident, determine who is at fault, and recommend how much the policy should pay for damages. Some insurance policies require that you get an estimate at a designated inspection site which sends a report to the insurance company. If you don’t agree with the adjuster’s repair value for your vehicle, you have the right to request a full report detailing how the adjuster determined the payout.
During your claims process, you will be responsible for following up with the insurance adjuster who will likely call for additional information. Provide any evidence you have of the accident, including photographs and contact information for witnesses.
#3. You Can Take Your Car to the Repair Shop of Your Choice
Some insurance companies pressure you to use their preferred body shops or use cheaper replacement parts. You are not obligated to use aftermarket repair shops or have your vehicle repaired at a recommended auto body shop. You can choose any repair shop to have your car fixed after the accident. You also have the right to request original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.
#4. You Will Need to File a Police Report
If you are filing a claim after a car accident with another person, you will need to file a police report. Your insurance company will request the police report number to help investigate your accident. If the police did not respond to the accident or you did not get a report at the scene, you can file a report at your local police station.
#5. You May Need to File a Claim with the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Depending who is at fault and the type of car insurance coverage you have, you may be filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance company or your insurance policy. In general, you will file a claim with the other driver’s insurance if they were clearly at fault. If a fault is shared or unclear, you can file a claim with both insurance companies as you will get coverage under one or both once the fault has been determined.
If you are at fault, you can file a claim under your collision coverage. If your car is damaged by vandalism, weather, or anything aside from a collision, file against your comprehensive policy. You can also file a claim against your insurance policy if the other driver was underinsured or uninsured if you have UM/UIM coverage.