Car insurance is one product that you need but hopes to never use. However, you may need to file a claim if you’re in an accident or your car is damaged. Filing a car insurance claim can be daunting! Way.com is here to provide a detailed guide on navigating the car insurance claim process.
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 look at how to file a claim, let’s look at what car insurance offers.
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 procedure after you file a claim.
When do I file a car insurance claim?
Let’s talk about when to file a car insurance claim. The general rule of thumb is to file a claim if the cost of repairs exceeds your deductible or if you’re involved in an accident that causes significant damage or injuries. But as the iconic Vito Corleone once said in “The Godfather,” “Never let anyone outside the family know what you’re thinking.” In other words, use your best judgment and don’t file a claim just because you can.
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, which caused the accident, or what caused the harm if it wasn’t a collision.
How to file a car insurance claim?
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to file a car insurance claim. The first step is to gather all the necessary information, including your policy number, the date and time of the accident, the location of the accident, and the contact information of any other drivers or witnesses involved. As the wise Yoda once said, “Patience you must have, my young Padawan.”
Next, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. They’ll walk you through the process of filing a claim and provide you with any necessary forms or documents. Don’t lose your cool when dealing with insurance agents. Remember, they’re just doing their job.
Be as detailed and accurate as possible when filling out the claim form. This will help ensure that your claim is processed smoothly and quickly.
Remember to follow up with your insurance company to check on the status of your claim. The amount of time it takes to process a claim varies depending on the accident’s severity and the claim’s complexity.
Filing a car insurance claim can be a stressful experience, but with these tips on filing an auto insurance claim, you’ll be able to navigate the process quickly. Remember, use your best judgment when deciding whether to file a claim, gather all the necessary information, be detailed and accurate when filling out the claim form, and follow up with your insurance company to check on the status of your claim.
- Stay calm and call the police
- Stay at the site of the accident, take photos, and exchange information with the other motorist if possible.
- 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
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. In this instance, the process of filing car insurance depends on what caused the damage.
If someone steals your car or vandalizes it, or is damaged by bad weather, you must file a claim under your own comprehensive insurance.
You must file a claim if you caused the accident that led to your car sustaining damage. 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:
Suppose you have an accident with an uninsured motorist, or the other driver’s insurance policy isn’t capable of compensating for your losses completely. In that case, 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 sustain 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 missing 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 can 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. If the damage to your car is less than your deductible, you could 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 pocket, ensure these things. One -that your estimate is correct, and two – that you can 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 you trust to provide a repair quote and discuss 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 minor. However, there are various reasons to be wary of taking this option.
For one thing, the other driver can change their mind and contact their insurance company. This could occur if they 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, your car insurance rate hike 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.
Read more: How to cancel your car insurance policy
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 filing the claim.
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 a cost estimate for your vehicle’s repairs. The 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 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. Your coverage limits indicate the maximum amount your insurer will pay in a particular 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 can select 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 pay 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 repair cost exceeds its 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 on lease.
The faster you complete all these steps, the smoother the process. 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 vehicle’s salvage value.
A salvage car will have some value in its pieces and can be restored even if it is totaled. Customers should be aware that certain states prohibit drivers from maintaining cars declared a total loss, while others may require you to obtain a salvage certificate.
If you disagree 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 proof that the car is worth more than initially estimated.
If you believe you are not fairly compensated, hire a lawyer.
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