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How do I make a car insurance claim?

Here's what you need to know...
  • It is important to know what types of coverage you have
  • You should report your claim as soon as possible
  • Your insurance company will need documentation of certain details, such as a police report, auto repair bills, and medical bills
  • Having your claim filed and fixed can take time, however, in most states, car insurance companies are not allowed to drag out the process any longer than necessary
  • You can contact your state’s insurance commissioner or an attorney if you feel like your settlement is taking longer than it should or is unfair

While no one really likes to pay for or think about car insurance, we are very thankful for it when we do need it. When you need to file a claim on your car insurance policy the money has spent on premiums really pays off. However if you need to decrease the amount of your auto insurance premiums to make it fit better into your budget, consider using an online price comparison tool. These types of tools will help ensure that you are getting the best price on your auto insurance premium. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

Know Your Coverage

Before filing a claim on your auto insurance, it is important to understand the different types of coverage you may or may not have within your policy.

  • Property Liability Coverage- Property liability insurance is a minimum required amount of insurance that nearly every state requires. The required elements are usually pretty low, however, it is important to make sure you purchase and now coverage that will protect your assets. This will save you a lot of money when you need to file a claim. Property liability coverage will pay for damage to other people’s property, including cars or structures, in the event that you cause an accident.
  • Bodily injury liability coverage- Bodily injury liability is in place to pay for medical bills and even for a death that you may have caused to someone else in the event of an accident.
  • Med Pay- Medical payments, also known as med pay or personal injury protection (PIP) will pay for the treatment of anyone in your vehicle who has been injured, including yourself. Personal injury protection usually also covers any loss wages and the expenses to replace essential services normally performed by the injured party, such as childcare or housework.
  • Collision Coverage- Collision insurance is a part of your auto insurance that pays for damages when you collide with another vehicle or another object such as a tree or building. With most auto insurance companies you can select your deductible for this type of coverage.
  • Comprehensive Coverage- Comprehensive insurance will pay for damages other than those caused by a collision, such as damages from a fire, explosions, hail, flood, earthquake, vandalism, or damage caused by wildlife. This type of coverage also allows you to select your deductible.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage- Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance protects you in the event that you were in a car accident with another driver who does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover the damages that have occurred in the car accident. In some states, this coverage is required. In some states, this type of coverage can also protect you if you are hit as a pedestrian.
  • Rental Car Reimbursement- While not as imperative as other types of coverages, rental car reimbursement can be a convenient add-on to your policy. This coverage pays for a rental car in the event that your own car is being repaired or replaced due to covered damages.

Steps and Expectations When Filing a Claim

When an incident has occurred and it is time to file a claim, is important to follow the appropriate steps. It is also important to know that the claims process is called a process for a reason. It really is a process to file a claim, be reimbursed, and to have the whole ordeal settled and put behind you. Patience is the key. Be sure to follow these steps when filing your car insurance claim:

  1. As soon as possible after the incident, you should call your insurance agent or insurance company. The agent or customer service representative can let you know what forms you will need along with other supporting evidence for your claim. Be prepared to share medical and auto repair bills and copies of any police reports that were taken. In most states, drivers are allowed to make their own choice in auto body repair shops. Several states, such as in Colorado, prohibit the insurance company from steering consumers to specific repair shops.
  2. Once you select your auto body repair shop be sure that it guarantees its work and provide you with a specific timeline for repairs. If you are not sure where to go for auto repairs, you can ask your auto insurance company to provide you with a list of local repair shops.
  3. Be sure to stay in touch with your insurance agent or claims adjuster and provide any further details or supporting documentation that they may need to settle your claim.
    Keep a paper trail with records and receipts of any expenses you have that are related to the accident. This can include medical bills, documentation of lost wages, expenses for hiring help around the house if it is needed due to the accident, and money pay for a rental car. Make copies of all of your paperwork and records.
  4. If you are not satisfied with the settlement offer your insurance company provides you with, discuss it with your claims adjuster or insurance agent. You could also check your policy to see what steps are outlined in a settlement.

There are several questions you should ask your claims adjuster or insurance agent during at the beginning of this process:

  • Does my policy cover these losses?
  • What is my deductible for these claims?
  • Is there a time limit for filing my claim?
  • How long can I expect the claims process to take?

Settling Your Claim

Most insurance companies are bound by state laws to pay out on your claim within a 60 day time period. You can check with your state’s insurance commissioner or an attorney if you feel like your car insurance company may be dragging their feet or you do not feel like you are receiving a fair settlement. However, it is best to first take your concerns and complaints to your insurance agent or your claims adjuster.

Being in an accident and having to file a claim on your auto insurance policy is never a quick walk in the park. In many cases, it will more likely be an uphill marathon.

Being sure that you have the appropriate amounts of car insurance coverage that fit within your given budget can help make having to purchase car insurance a little easier.

You can use an online insurance comparison tool or calculator to help you ensure that you are paying the best price available for your coverage. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to start comparing car insurance rates now!

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