Even the safest drivers can have accidents. At the scene of an accident, you may need to take some crucial steps, such as making sure everyone is okay, calling the police, and exchanging information with any other drivers involved.
When it comes time to file an auto insurance claim, it helps to know what information you need to provide and understand how your insurance coverage works.
Each insurance company handles your claims differently, but many steps are similar. Here’s an idea of what to expect during the insurance claim process.
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ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR COVERAGE
When you call your insurer to file a claim, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says that they will ask you to provide information and documentation related to the accident. You should also make sure you understand a few key points regarding your policy and how it works. These include:
Your deductible. You selected deductibles for specific coverages, such as collision or comprehensive, when you purchased your auto insurance. Ensure you know your deductible or the amount you’ll have to pay out of pocket for repairs to your vehicle before insurance coverage kicks in.
Let’s say, for example, you have a $500 collision coverage deductible, and the covered damage to your vehicle is $1,500. Your deductible will be subtracted from your covered loss, and your insurance company will pay $1,000 for the repairs.
Rental reimbursement coverage. Do you need transportation while your vehicle is in the workshop? If your auto insurance policy includes rental reimbursement coverage *, it can help pay for the cost of renting a car while yours is being repaired. Consumer Reports suggest that you ask your insurer how to arrange a car rental and payment. It’s also a good idea to ask about coverage limits (for example, $30 per day for up to six days).
Time limits. According to Consumer Reports, it’s a good idea to ask your insurer about the time limits for making claims and submitting bills.
GET AN ESTIMATE AND WORK WITH THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER
The insurance adjuster, or claims adjuster, investigates the accident, determines who is at fault, and recommends how much the insurance company will pay for the damages, according to Edmunds.
An adjuster will check your car to determine what was damaged during the accident and how much it will cost to repair (both parts and labor). According to Consumer Reports, some insurance companies require you to go to a designated inspection site in advance to get an estimate of repair costs. The shop inspects the damage and sends a report to the insurance company, which will help pay for repairs to your vehicle.
If you disagree with the adjuster’s repair value, Consumer Reports suggests requesting a full report detailing how repair costs were assessed. Ask the adjuster to explain how they determined the insurance payment.
TAKE YOUR CAR TO REPAIR
You can take your car to any repair shop you choose, says Consumer Reports. You also have the right to ask the body shop to use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts to repair your car instead of less expensive “used” domains. However, keep in mind that OEM parts can be new or remanufactured, depending on how your policy is written.
Depending on the situation, your insurance company might pay the repair shop outright or pay you and let you handle the bill.
After an accident, you likely want your auto insurance claim to go as smoothly as possible, so you can get your vehicle repaired and get back on the road. If you have any questions about the claim process, please call your local agent.
AT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT
- Stop your car and if there are injuries, call for help immediately.
- Call the police or highway patrol. Inform emergency personnel if there are injuries, how many people, and the type of injuries. The police will notify the nearest medical unit.
- Give aid to the injured but do not move them, which could aggravate their condition. Many times the only thing you can do for someone injured is to provide support and companionship, and if it is within your reach, a blanket, blanket, or some coat to keep them warm.
- When the police arrive, provide as much information as you can; and if it is a crash, get a copy of the police report or crash report; if you don’t have it, find out where you can get a copy because you’ll need it to make your auto insurance claim.
- Find a way to protect your car and your safety at the scene of the accident. You can post signs to divert other drivers, move the vehicle to the shoulder of the road, or call a tow truck. If your car is towed, ask the tow truck to take you directly to a shop that your insurance company authorizes to do the repairs.
- Ensure they don’t start making repairs until an expert inspects the damage, so the insurer can calculate its worth and issue repair or compensation orders.
- While you are at the accident scene, make notes of what happened, the names and addresses of the people involved, the police officer who took the case, witnesses to the accident, and of course, the person involved in the crash. Write down the description and license plate of the car or cars involved.
- If the crash occurs while the other vehicle is parked and unattended, be sure to leave contact information for the other driver. If you have a camera handy, take pictures of the accident.
And when claiming the insurer, follow these steps:
- Contact your insurer or insurance agent as soon as possible, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Find out if you are covered for the type of damage you have suffered; even when these seem small, you must inform your insurer about the incident.
- Ask your agent or company representative how to proceed and what forms or papers you will need to document the claim. The insurer will ask for proof of the claim and, if there is a police report, a copy of it. Today it is more and more common for insurers to have systems that allow you to monitor the progress of your claim with Internet access.
- Provide the company with the documents requested. Carefully fill out the documentation and keep a copy of everything for your files. You must have good documentation of what is happening, all receipts for expenses related to the accident, and the people (names and phone numbers) involved in the accident.