There are over 220 million cars on the road today in America. With so many vehicles clogging the roads, accidents are bound to occur. In fact, there are over 17,000 car accidents reports per day in the United States. If you are one of these unfortunate individuals, you probably will need to make a claim with your insurance company.
An auto insurance claim is any request for payment in accordance with your insurance policy. For example, if you get into a car accident and need to ask your insurance company for money to pay for repairs, that is called “making a claim.” If you are lucky enough to have a good, easy-to-work-with insurance company, making a claim should be a piece of cake. If you don’t, on the other hand, things could get pretty difficult.
The hard part of making these claims is proving that your situation is covered under the stipulations of your contract. Often times there is small, fine print in your contract that will negate your claim. Often times your insurance company might be unwilling to work with you. We are here to simplify this claims process for you. If you ever are in an automobile accident, and need to file a claim, please follow the five steps below in order to insure your claim is processed as quickly and smoothly as possible.
The Five Steps To Filing A Car Insurance Claim
- Determine whether or not you need to make a claim.
Whatever you do, don’t call up your insurance company immediately after the accident if you are unsure about filing a claim. Be sure to first consult with police and your friends/family to make sure filing a claim is necessary. The reason for this being that if you call up your insurance company and inquire about making a claim, they can record this call and put it on your permanent record – even if you don’t make a claim! If you can safely pay for the damage caused by a minor accident, don’t even think about calling your insurance company – just bite the bullet and pay for it yourself. It will help your insurance rates in the long term.
- Document the details of the accident.
Following an accident, there are some pieces of information you need to make sure to get. First, exchange license plate numbers, contact information, and insurance information with any other parties involved in the accident. Also look around to see if there are any witnesses to the accident. Get their contact information as well. Finally, make sure to file an accident report with the police. If it is a minor accident, police officers often times won’t file accident reports. Even if they refuse, insist on them doing so. This report can help you a lot when it comes time to filing your claim. Often times, insurance companies won’t take claims seriously unless there is some written proof from the police.
- File your claim as soon as possible.
As soon as you have gathered enough information needed to make the claim, grab your phone and give your insurance company a call. Even if the accident was your fault, you should still file the claim ASAP. It will help get everything settled and squared away quickly without any hassles. I recommend calling the insurance company immediately at the scene of the accident. If you are unsure of your insurance company’s phone number, open up your glove box and look at your insurance card. The number should be printed on the back of it. The agent who takes your claim will walk you through the process. Be prepared to tell them details of the accident as well as other information you have gathered in step 2.
- Talk to the other party’s insurance company.
The other party’s insurance company might contact you if there is a dispute between the two parties in the accident. They will ask you for “your side of the story” in regards to the accident. It might be a good idea to seek legal advice if you need to speak with the other person’s insurance company. If not, you need to be very careful about what you say, otherwise they may not make a pay out on your claim.
- Get your car fixed.
After the accident, a claims adjuster will inspect your vehicle to assess the damage. The insurance company will then cut a check for the amount needed for repairs (or replacement). Your insurance company often will send your car to a company-approved repair shop to get these repairs done. While you wait for your vehicle to be repaired, the insurance company will provide you with a rental car you can use.
Although nobody particularly likes dealing with insurance companies, it is necessary to do so if you are ever in a serious accident. After all, without insurance, we wouldn’t have the financial freedom needed to drive.
We hope our step-by-step guide to filing claims helped clear up some of your questions and concerns regarding the process. If you need to find insurance for your vehicle, you should compare quotes online to find an affordable policy that fits your needs. There are many websites (including this one) that will provide you with free insurance quotes. Good luck!