Car insurance is one product that you need but hope to never use. However, if you’re in an accident or your car is damaged, you may need to file a claim. Here’s how to file a car insurance claim
Car insurance has numerous advantages, especially in the event of an accident. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll have to pay for the losses yourself. And deal with the aftermath, including any legal proceedings, on your own.
An insurance claim is nothing more than a request for financial compensation from an insurance company. Understanding how the claims process works, including how to report an accident. If your work with an insurance adjuster to get your automobile repaired, it will take the stress out of the process.
But before we take a look at how to file a claim, let’s take a look at what car insurance has to offer.
What is car insurance?
Car insurance is a contract between you and the insurance company that protects you financially in the event of an accident or theft. The insurance provider promises to pay your losses as stipulated in your policy in exchange for you paying a premium.
If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know how time-consuming and frustrating filing a claim can be. However, you won’t have to deal with other drivers or property owners involved in the collision if you have the necessary coverage. You’ll also avoid the stress of dealing with the cost of replacing or repairing your car.
A good auto insurance policy can assist you in dealing with many of these concerns. Repairs and replacements, as well as towing, are all covered by a decent policy. The insurance company manages and helps you throughout the entire procedure after you file a claim.
When do I file a car insurance claim?
Each year, insurance companies in the U.S. spend more than $170 billion on car insurance claims payments. The process of filing a claim may vary from one state to the other, but the basic steps are usually the same. You must file a car insurance claim if your car or truck is destroyed or you get hurt in an accident.
The claims processes are different for each scenario. It varies depending on the severity of the damage or injuries, who caused the accident, or what caused the harm if it wasn’t a collision.
What to do if my car is damaged?
If your car gets damaged or totaled due to an accident and needs to be repaired or replaced, it is time to file a car insurance claim. The process of filing car insurance in this instance depends on what caused the damage.
If someone steals your car or vandalizes it, or if your car is damaged by bad weather, you must file a claim under your own comprehensive insurance.
If you caused the accident that led to your car sustained damage, then you must file a claim. This has to be with your own insurance carrier under your collision insurance.
Other driver’s fault:
Collision where the fault is shared:
If you had a collision with another driver but both of you were at fault for the accident, then file a claim with your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance carrier. The insurance companies will then work together to determine whose fault it was. You will then receive coverage under one or both policies.
Collision with an uninsured/underinsured driver:
If you have an accident with an uninsured motorist, or the other driver’s insurance policy isn’t capable of compensating for your losses completely, your own insurance company will cover your losses. I.e, provided you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
What to do if I am injured?
If you sustaining an injury after an accident, the process of filing a car insurance claim depends on the cause of your injury and whether you live in a no-fault state.
Injured in a no-fault state:
If you live in a no-fault state, such as Michigan or Ohio, you must to file your injury claims with your own insurance company. Under personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay insurance, even if you are not at fault for the accident.
However, if you sustain severe injuries to the extent of you having to miss work or being disabled, you may file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Injury due to other driver’s fault:
If you sustain injuries due to a collision caused by the other driver, you must file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company under their liability policy.
Collision with an uninsured/underinsured driver:
Injured after a collision with an uninsured or underinsured motorist? You may file a claim for compensation with your own insurance company. However, you will only receive compensation if you have uninsured/underinsured coverage, personal injury protection (PIP), or MedPay.
When not to file a car insurance claim?
The norm is that you must notify your insurance company if you’re in a major accident. However, there are situations when you do not need to file a car insurance claim. Especially when you may be able to bear the costs of repairing your car on your own. Here are three scenarios in which filing a claim may not be necessary.
The cost of repairing your car is close to your deductible:
If you’re in an accident with another driver, the liability element of your car insurance policy will pay for any damage you cause to the other cars. If you have collision coverage, it covers damage to your own vehicle.
However, you’ll have to pay a deductible before the collision coverage kicks in. If the cost of the damage to your car is less than your deductible, you could choose to pay for the repairs yourself. This is because filing a claim will result in an increase in your insurance rate.
But, before you choose to repair your car out of your own pocket, make sure of these things. One -that your estimate is correct and two – that you can indeed pay out of your pocket for the repairs.
For many car owners, repairing something as small as a headlight or a bumper can be more expensive than what they anticipate. We recommend requesting an auto body shop that you trust to provide a repair quote and discuss any potential cost increases.
If the final cost is excessively expensive and you wish to file a claim, you may be unable to do so. As most insurance companies demand that customers report incidents within a specific amount of time.
The accident involved only two drivers:
If you are in an accident with just one other driver, you may both agree not to involve the insurance companies. You might consider not filing a claim If determining culpability is simple, no one is hurt, and the damage looks to be minor. However, there are various reasons to be wary of taking this option.
For one thing, the other driver has the option of changing their mind and contacting their insurance companies. This could occur if they begin to feel discomfort hours or days after the collision. Another reason to contact the insurers is that the damage to your car could be expensive to repair.
If you’ve filed too many claims recently:
Filing too many claims with your insurer might cause your premiums to skyrocket. Making a car insurance claim has different consequences depending on the state, the insurer, and how long it’s been since you filed a claim, if at all. However, the hike in your car insurance rate might be way more than what you could afford.
Hence, unless you’re certain the damage to your car is minor, it’s usually better to contact your insurance carrier. If you’ve had a lot of claims in the past, you might want to cover the repairs yourself.
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How to file a car insurance claim
If you’ve just had an accident, remember to stay calm and call the police. Stay at the site of the accident, take photos, and exchange information with the other motorist if possible. Although car accidents can be frightening, submitting a claim need not be the same. If you need to make a car insurance claim, follow these steps:
Inform your insurance carrier about the accident as soon as possible
Your insurance carrier will most likely ask for the following information after you file your car insurance claim.
- Accident location, date, and time
- Name, contact details, and address of everyone involved in the accident
- Your insurance policy number
- Photos)of the car that has been damaged
- Copies of police and/or accident reports
Cooperate with your insurance adjuster
After you have filed a claim, your insurance provider will send an adjuster to look into the claim. The adjuster will usually contact you within one to three days of the claim being filed.
Your adjuster will schedule a date for an inspection to determine the extent of the damage to your vehicle. They will also handle any personal injury claims as well as look over police reports and speak with witnesses.
Depending on your insurer, you might need to obtain a cost estimate for your vehicle’s repairs. The which repair shop will share the estimate with your insurer. The information from your adjuster and the repair business is then used by your insurer to make an assessment.
Examine the coverage’s and deductibles in your policy
It’s critical to understand how you’re covered so that you can set realistic expectations for your claim. If your policy includes rental car reimbursement coverage, for example, you may be able to get a rental car while your car is at the auto body shop, being repaired.
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The deductible on your auto insurance policy determines how much you pay out of pocket on a covered claim. Whereas your coverage limits indicate the maximum amount your insurer will pay out in a certain category.
Additionally, if you owe more on the vehicle than it’s worth, loan/lease payoff coverage, also known as gap insurance might cover the difference, according to your policy’s limitations.
If necessary, repair or replace your vehicle
You have the option of selecting which shop will handle your car’s repairs. If your claim is approved, your insurer will send you or the repair shop a check, minus your deductible. If the damage to your car is beyond repair, your insurer will make a payment to you and/or your lender for the vehicle’s worth, minus your deductible.
What happens if my car is declared a total loss?
Your car is declared a total loss when the expected cost of repairing it exceeds the car’s actual cash value (ACV). If your insurance company declares your car has a total loss, they will ask you to perform the following:
- Remove your license plates and other personal belongings.
- Hand over the keys to the insurance claims adjuster.
- Complete the required paperwork to process your claim.
- Contact the leasing company, if your car is one lease.
The faster you complete all of these steps, the smoother the process will be. The car is normally seized by your insurance provider after being declared a total loss. Additionally, the DMV is notified that the car has been totaled. The car will be declared “salvage” depending on the state, and any buyers who specialize in salvaging vehicles can choose to buy it from your insurance company.
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Your insurance company may enable you to keep the totaled car if you wish to fix it or keep it for sentimental reasons. You’ll get less money if you go down that route. Your payout will be the actual cash value minus the salvage value of the vehicle.
A salvage car will have some value in its pieces and the ability to be restored even if it is totaled. Customers should be aware that certain states prohibit drivers from maintaining cars that have been declared a total loss, while others may require you to obtain a salvage certificate.
If you don’t agree that it’s a total loss, you might try to reach an agreement with the claims adjuster. You could argue, for example, that they did not fully account for any changes you made. You’ll have to provide documents and any proof that the car is worth more than what was originally estimated.
If you believe you are not being fairly compensated, hire a lawyer to represent you.