Whether you just rear ended someone or you were the victim of a reckless driver, filing a car insurance claim can feel like a daunting task. Most insurance companies are quite good about getting all of the pertinent information that they need to precede with the claim, and to do it all quickly. The most important thing you can do when you are in an accident is to call the insurance company as soon as it happens. Waiting can be a big mistake, and one that can cost you. Obtaining a police report about the accident is the second thing you should do, and make sure to submit that to your insurance carrier as well.
I have outlined a few steps for you, as to what to expect when filing a car insurance claim. While some of these may vary based on state and carrier, these are the basic steps that the company will take and what you should do.
- 1.) Call your carrier immediately. Do not wait!
- 2.) If you are at the scene of the accident and no one else has called 911, be sure to call so that you can get a police report documenting who was at fault and what happened.
- 3.) Take pictures, and lots of them. Do not overlook this step. You will want to get pictures not only of your vehicle, but of the other vehicle involved as well. And just to be overly cautious, get a picture of their license plate as well. You never know when someone may try to hide something or cover something up.
- 4.) Get their insurance information on the scene. You will want to swap info, and you will each have to call your carrier. If you were the victim the responsible party’s carrier will call yours and possibly even you.
- 5.) You can expect your carrier to send a claims adjuster to your home or work to see the vehicle, within a day or 2 of the accident. They will want to take photos and document all damage.
- 6.) Your insurance company will also want you to take your vehicle to one of their repair shops for an estimate of damages. Based on what their shop says, you will get an estimate and money based on the damages. You do not have to use their shop to get the repairs done however. The nice thing is that if you can find a shop even less expensive for the work and the rest is gravy.
- 7.) Most decent policies have rental car reimbursement as part of the policy. If your car is going to be out of commission for days or weeks, you will need to get a rental car, and most carriers will help you to work it out and get a vehicle. Just keep in mind that you most likely have a set amount of money that they will cover per day and for a certain amount of time. Anything over that is then your responsibility.
- 8.) If your carrier has online claim access you should be able to view your claim status online at any time.
- 9.) It usually takes a few weeks, but if any money is coming to you, your carrier will notify you of the amount and when to expect payment. If you have online access, you should see it online as well.