Having needed to file an auto insurance claim myself before, I’ve personally been through the process of how to file, and I know what to expect. Here are what the experts say on the matter, as well as something that I can pass on from my own experience.
Immediately After the Collision
After you’ve been in a collision, your mind is going a million miles per hour, the adrenalin is coursing through your veins, and thinking straight might be hard to do. Assuming you are uninjured, though, taking photographs of the damage to your vehicle, as well as the damage to other involved vehicles is of great importance. These photos serve as a baseline that you can use during the claims process, as well as potentially be used by the adjuster to determine who is at fault.
After you have taken photos, it’s extremely important to get insurance information from all other involved parties. Not only will this provide information you need for making a claim, but it will also be information you need to put on your accident report that you file with the government. You’ll need the insurance company name, the agent’s name, the policy number, the name on the policy, the vehicle information listed on the insurance card, as well as the phone number.
Making the First Call
The first call can be the most difficult, as the company will be very hesitate as they aren’t yet sure if they are the ones that will need to send out the money. Be polite, answer all questions honestly, and offer anything you feel is relevant that they don’t ask about (such as the pictures you took). While not entirely necessary, it can also be helpful to make note of who you feel was at fault in the collision, and anyone who claims fault.
Making Follow-up Calls
It’s recommended that you check-up with the insurance companies regularly. This shows a want for the issue to be settled, and can move the case to the top of the pile. Don’t harass the workers, of course, but if you haven’t heard anything for a couple of weeks, give them a call.
Be Prepared to Wait
After all the information is reported to the insurance companies, they can often take weeks or even months arguing between each other over who was at fault, what damage was caused by the collision, and how much each company needs to pay. Be available to answer any questions, but be aware that this is a long process sometimes, and the longer they take often the more fair the decision is.
Give me the Money
It is very rare that a car insurance company will actually send you a check. Instead, they much prefer to pay an auto body shop or mechanic directly. This is often because the companies have deals with the shops for discounts. Depending on your state, you may have the right to select which shops to use. It’s important to research such laws, and exercise those rights.