How to File a Claim After A Car Accident
No matter who you’re, filing an auto insurance claim is not usually a welcomed scenario. It's stressful, time-consuming, and expensive. However, knowing how to file a claim can ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Auto Insurance Claim Basics
An auto insurance claim is when you file a request with your auto insurance carrier or the other driver's insurance carrier to request compensation for the costly damage an auto accident can bring. Whether you’re the cause of the accident or not, contacting the insurance company is just one step in the auto insurance claim process. Before you call the insurance company to report the claim, there are other actions to take first.
The moments following an auto accident can feel like you’re moving through quicksand. Everything seems to happen so fast and so slow at the same time. The best thing you can do is stay calm. First, make sure you’re okay, and then check on your passengers. If you can exit your vehicle, it's good to confirm the other driver is alright as well.
Then call 911 to report the accident – calling the proper authorities ensures all measures are taken for medical attention and to clean up any wreckage. Plus, the police will take note of all the details from all involved parties and witnesses for their report. Keep in mind it's good to have a copy of the police report when submitting your auto insurance claim to the carrier. It's also beneficial to have the authorities on site if the other parties involved become confrontational or uncooperative.
Accident Information to Have Ready
After the insurance information has been exchanged and the accident has been cleaned up, you must now file the auto insurance claim with either your carrier or that of the other driver. You’ll want to obtain and exchange the following information:
- Contact information for the insurance company
- Policy numbers
- Names of anyone involved in the accident
- Contact information for any eyewitnesses
- The name and badge number of responding police officers
- Vehicle make and model
- License plate numbers
- Location of the accident
Remember, don’t accept fault for the accident. You’re just relaying the facts for the insurance carrier and it's up to them to determine who’s responsible. You should also have the police report copy or a case number on hand. This will give the adjuster an account of the entire accident, as well as any witness information.
If possible, take a few photos or even a quick video of the accident scene and close-ups of damaged parts of the vehicles. This photographic evidence will help the adjuster during the claim investigation.
Filing the Auto Insurance Claim
Once you find yourself on the phone with the claims department, they’ll ask you a series of questions about the accident. A claims representative will request the specific details of the crash, such as:
- Which direction you were traveling in?
- Where did the accident happen?
- What time of day did the crash take place?
These questions help the adjuster determine if any other factors may have contributed to the loss. It's good to know the exact places where the damage is on all cars involved, and any photos you take will support your statements.
When it comes to the damage, the claims department may want you to go to one of their preferred shops. From there, a claims appraisal will be performed on the vehicle and sent to the adjuster.
Car Accident Injuries
Again, if you’ve been injured in a car accident, seek medical attention immediately. Any delay in treatment can wreak havoc on your health and your auto insurance claim. What’s more, remember that at their core, an insurance company is a business, and if you wait on treatment you’re potentially giving the company the red flag they’re looking for to not compensate fairly. Any delay is a sign that your injuries may not be severe. In short, be proactive.
The claims representative should ask, but if they don’t, be sure to tell them if there were any injuries. Be sure to let them know if you or anyone else in your vehicle was injured. You may have medical payments coverage (also known as med pay) that will cover any bills you incur for injuries sustained in the accident. The representative also needs to know if anyone in the other vehicle was injured. Give them all the information you have, and if you’re unsure if anyone has been hurt, let them know that as well.
Repairing Your Car
Once the vehicle is at the repair shop, they’ll photograph the damage, calculate the cost of parts and labor, and estimate the time it will take to fix everything. They’ll also consider if your vehicle is even worth repairing. For example, if the cost to repair is higher than the total value of your car, they may offer you a salvage price. The initial investigation period should only take a few days.
Once the adjuster has the repair estimate, they’ll go over it with you. If you agree with their appraisal, you can then proceed with the repair. During the repair, if you have rental car coverage, then your policy will pay for it up to the limits specified. Or if the damage was the result of another driver, their insurance may cover the cost of a rental car.
Bodily Injury Claims
If you or any of your passengers suffered injuries during the car accident, be sure to give copies of all hospital, doctor, and related costs to the adjusters. Factors that determine reimbursement on medical claims include the limits on each policy, the scope of the injuries, and if those injuries claimed were sustained during the auto accident. Keeping copies of medical bills and dates of the doctor visits will help the adjuster settle your auto insurance claim as quickly as possible.
During the auto insurance claim process, it’s crucial to work with your insurance adjuster to the best of your ability. Don't hesitate to call them if you have questions or need clarification. The insurance companies will do their best to work with you to get your auto insurance claim resolved timely and fairly.
On the other hand, there’s no doubt auto accidents can be a headache to deal with, and injuries or a totaled car can be downright earth-shattering. With so many questions about fault, coverage, and the like, there can be a lot of back and forth with the insurance carrier. While these are typical scenarios for most claims, there can be times when it may be too much, and hiring an attorney is in your best interest.
Talk to An Auto Accident Injury Attorney
Too often when we’re in an accident, we don’t make the best decisions on how to file a claim the right way. By acting too quickly or letting our emotions get carried away, we walk away without proper compensation. An accident attorney can be of great help.
Our attorneys at Andriotis Law Firm work with insurance companies, adjusters, witnesses, and investigators to ensure you aren’t paying for someone's mistake. We can offer you free advice, help you avoid any missteps, and negotiate to get you the largest possible settlement.
If you find yourself buckling under the weight of your auto insurance claim, contact our office today. We offer free consultations and would be happy to assist you in any way we can.