Auto Insurance Claims Guide
Getting in a car accident can be stressful. Going through the insurance claims process can also be stressful and confusing.
This page helps remove the confusion and get you the answers you need.
Car Accident Checklist
Call 911 if anyone has injuries or if there is significant property damage. If the accident is minor, you can call the non-emergency number.
Either way, it's important to call the police to get a policy report. The police report helps your case with the insurance companies and helps prove who was actually at fault.
If possible, move all vehicles to a parking lot, away from the main road.
Also move all people away from the main road and out of harms way.
Do not admit fault. Only speak with the police and your own insurance company.
When you have just been involved in an accident, you aren't thinking clearly. If you talk with the other party or with their insurance company, you may say something that hurts your claim.
Only speak with the police and your own insurance company. They are there to help and protect you.
The police will fill out an exchange report. This will have most of the information you need to provide to your insurance company when you file a claim.
Make sure you don't leave the scene until you get this from the police office. It's also a good idea to secure the name and contact information of the police officer.
Videos, pictures, drawings, eye witnesses and everything else you can think of to verify what happened are essential.
The more documentation you have, the better.
Here is a pdf that directs you on how to sketch a rendering of the accident.
Here is a Car Accident Report Form that helps you know what information to gather.
Save both of these where you can easily access them.
Don't leave the scene until you have the exchange report and also the police officers contact information.
You should also inquire about how to access the official police report. Usually this takes a week or two to be available.
Claim Resources & Information Library
- If you are at fault or no other parties involved, file with yours.
- If you're not sure who was at fault and there are other parties involved, file with your insurance company. Your insurance company will then work with the other insurance company to determine who was at fault and which insurance company will pay for damages.
- If other party at fault, and you have their insurance information (you should get this information from the police officer's "information exchange report"), then you should call and file the claim through their insurance company.
If the at fault party doesn't have insurance or their insurance company wont respond to you and work with you, then you will need to file the claim through your insurance company and allow them to sort things out.
- Worst case scenario, if you're not sure what to do, file the claim with your own insurance company.
Yes, you can use whoever you want to repair your vehicle. Most insurance companies will have their own list of preferred shops, but you are not required to use those shops.
Keep in mind that if you use the insurance company's recommended shop then you will have their warranty. This means that if something goes wrong with the repair, or you notice something they didn't fix a week later, you can take it back and they will work with your insurance to correct it. If you use your own shop, you'll have to handle that situation yourself with the repair shop.
Most insurance companies will not use OEM parts to repair your vehicle. If OEM parts are the only parts available (like on newer cars and models) then they will.
Most insurance policies state that they will use parts that are similar in look and quality.
However, there is an endorsement that many insurance companies allow you to add on to your car insurance policy. This OEM endorsement will insure that you get OEM parts put back on your car after an accident. Consult with your insurance broker to see if this is an option for you.
Yes, you can cancel a claim on car insurance. However, there are some things to be aware of:
- This generally can only be done when there were no other parties involved in the accident.
- If you were at fault and the other party has medical injuries or damage to their property, you cannot cancel the claim. Your insurance is still responsible to the other party.
- If you cancel the claim out, it will show that $0 was paid out. However, there still may be insurance companies that charge that claim against you and raise your rate.
This is why it's important to fully analyze the situation and only file a claim if necessary. At least you know that you can always cancel a claim on car insurance.
When your car insurance limits have been exceeded, the injured party can go after you personally. This is why it's so important to have the correct car insurance limits.
It's important to know that being sued personally after a car accident rarely happens; however it still can and does happen. There are also different limitations on what they can go after you for, depending on the state you live in.
Every insurance carrier will notify you immediately should this occur. They'll let you know that the car accident claim exceeds your insurance limits and that this opens you up to be sued. At that point, it may be a good thing to contact an attorney to make sure you protect yourself.
In most cases, yes, you can sell your car with an open insurance claim. Each claim is different so it would be wise to consult with your claims adjuster beforehand.
Yes, you always have the option to reopen a car insurance claim. Each scenario is different, but there are many reasons why you may need or want to. Contact your claims adjuster to go over the specifics.
No, you should never speak with the other persons insurance company. If you've filed the claim through your insurance company, then you need to step back and let them go to bat for you.
If the other insurance company tries to call you, don't answer or direct them to your insurance company's claims adjuster.
Any communication you get from the other insurance company can also be forwarded right to your insurance company's claims adjuster.
3 to 4 claims within a 3 year period is the average number. However, this depends on the specific insurance carrier. Some insurance carriers will only allow you to have 2 or 3 at fault claims. Some will allow you to have up to 10 claims (though this policy would be very expensive).
The important thing to know is that we are not aware of any company out there that will drop you for filing 1 single claim. You shouldn't be afraid to use your insurance and file a claim, so long as you are doing so wisely.
You should only file claims that are large and catastrophic. In other words, don't file a claim for $1,200 when you have a deductible of $1,000. This makes no sense. Your rates will go up and you'll only receive $200 from the insurance company.
Before going with any insurance carrier, you can ask them how many claims are allowed on that specific car insurance policy.
This is why using the insurance company's preferred shop is a good idea. If there are any issues after the claim, you can contact the insurance company and they will help you resolve those issues with the repair company. It's important to bring these issues up as soon as you discover them. Waiting to let them know can limit the chances you have of getting things corrected.
If you choose to use your own shop, then you will be on your own to work with the repair shop. If you choose a reputable repair shop, this shouldn't be an issue, but it's still important to know that you will have to do this on your own. The insurance company will not help you resolve any issues you have.
Yes, you can file a car insurance claim without a police report. A police report is not necessary, but it can go a long way in proving who was at fault and what actually happened.
Without a police report the only thing the insurance company has to go off of is your word vs the other person's word ("he said, she said").
Most police forces wont come to the scene of an accident to give a policy report if the accident occurred on private property. However, in most states and cities, you can file a police report over the phone. We recommend that you file a police report however you can, something is always better than nothing.
What To Expect After You File Your Auto Insurance Claim
- A claims adjuster will reach out in 24-72 hours.
- It's important to give them correct contact information and as many forms of contact as you can (email, text, phone). That way they can easily get a hold of you.
- Work with the adjuster, they are the ones that call the shots and keep the ball moving.
- Your insurance broker can help and act as facilitators if necessary. But only involve them if needed. Otherwise there are too many cooks in the kitchen and things get confusing.
- If your claim does raise your rate, that wont happen until your policy renews.