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How to file a car insurance claim after an accident  

  • Auto Insurance
  • Renee Martin
  • 5 minutes

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It is an unfortunate fact of life that we may meet with an accident at any time. Having good insurance is one of those small mercies that allows you to safeguard life and limb in the aftermath of a mishap. However, too often, we only take insurance for the sake of it and ignore the niceties. As a result, many of us do not know how to file a car insurance claim in the wake of an accident or what to do when our insurance claim is denied.  

Missing this routine yet important step can cost you a lot, so it would be wise to be informed on filing a claim. We’ve collected some important steps you need to follow while doing so! 

How soon should you file a car insurance claim after an accident?

Though you are expected to notify the insurer within 24 hours, most companies provide an average of 30 days within which you are expected to file a car insurance claim. It’s only understandable since the period after an accident can be quite harrowing. Even a minor accident might leave you with injuries to yourself, which could prevent you from looking into damages to the car.  

Certain companies have mobile apps that allow you to upload any details before filing a claim with them. Ask your insurer in advance what the time limit is for submitting a claim since it also depends on the type and extent of coverage you own. There might also be different timelines for filing claims for vehicle damages and personal injuries.  

You should ideally know what different types of coverage you have – collision, comprehensive, rental reimbursement, etc. 

file a car insurance claim

What details should I give while filing a car insurance claim?

The company cannot process your claim properly without some essential details about the nature of your accident. When you find yourself in an accident, be it major or minor, immediately take pictures of everything that can be useful for the insurer. Take pictures of the damage to your car, to the other vehicle, road conditions (like snow, fog, or rain), etc. It is also important that you take a photo of the other driver’s license and ID cards, and include the names and details of the police officers who first responded to the scene. 

What are some common car insurance claims I can file?

You can file a damage/injury claim in any of the following situations: 

  • Theft and vandalism 
  • Weather damage 
  • Rear-end collisions 
  • Parking lot accidents 
  • Collisions at intersections 
  • Whiplash/ Back injury 

What do I do when I’m filing a claim against someone else?

You file a claim against someone else (usually the other driver) when it is clear that you weren’t at fault. You can contact their insurer directly to file your claim. If they accept it, they would be liable to cover costs that include repair costs to your car, medical bills, and alternative transport while your vehicle is being repaired. 

What do I do if my car is completely totaled?

A car is totaled (total loss) if the cost to repair it is more than its actual worth before the accident. You need to know the value of your car so you can negotiate with your insurer to reimburse you for an acceptable amount. In some states, you might be paid based on ‘comparative fault’ – if the insurer decides that you were 25% at fault, you will get only 75% of the car value as reimbursement. 

The adjuster conducts an appraisal and gives a value to the car, assuming it is totaled. The accident damage is not taken into account in the appraisal. The adjuster is attempting to determine a fair financial offer for the car immediately before the accident. If you feel that insurance not paying enough for your totaled car, you can speak with your lawyer.

What can I do if my claim is denied?

One of the most flummoxing part when filing a claim is when your car insurance claim is denied. What do you do when your claim is denied? The important question you should ask is why is your claim denied?

Car insurance companies will deny your claim based on certain reasons like: 

  • If they feel the accident was preventable 
  • If you delayed treatment of medical injuries for too long 
  • If you didn’t file a claim in time 

If your claim is denied, ask them to provide the reason for denial in writing. This is both for your records and for you to understand whether to appeal against it. There’s always the possibility that they made a mistake, or you didn’t submit enough information. As a last option, you can always consult a lawyer on the best way forward. 

Reading the fine print of your policy is a reasonable starting step. It may show why your car insurance claim was denied.

How do I find the best car insurance coverage? 

Don’t skimp on car insurance unless you can afford it. The easiest way to find affordable coverage is to compare quotes from various insurance providers online. You can start your research on the best car insurance companies by getting a free car insurance quote on Way.com. 

file a car insurance claim

Check out our blogs for info on finding top-rated airport parking, the best parking spots in your city, and affordable car washes near you.


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