No one leaves the house expecting to get into a car wreck, and some lucky people may never have to file car insurance claims.
Statistically speaking, though, every driver on the road is likely to get into some situation in the span of his or her driving career that requires navigating the insurance company rigamarole.
Even if you are a pristine driver, auto accidents can often find you. Or you may file a claim for a completely different reason, such as vandalism or weather damage.
Luckily, most auto insurance carriers now give you the option to report claims online, which may be the easiest option if you are reporting a simple fender bender.
However, if you have been involved in a serious car accident – and especially if it involves injuries – you may wish to get the personal attention of a phone call with your insurer.
Information for Filing Car Insurance Claims
Regardless of how you file the claim, you are going to need to be prepared with your insurance policy number as well as the basic who, what, when, and where of the incident.
Who Was involved?
Before leaving the scene of an accident, be sure to get the names, addresses, license plate numbers, and insurance information of any other drivers involved, but do not go into details about the accident. It’s important not to say anything that might be used against you.
Also get the name, department, and badge number of any police officers on the scene.
Your car insurance company will want to know how the accident occurred. If there was a police report taken, you will need to provide the report number.
If you suffered any bodily injury, keep track of all your doctor’s visits as well as any expenses incurred from an ambulance ride or from time in the emergency room. You may also need to provide evidence that the ailment did not exist prior to the accident.
When Did the Accident Occur?
Take note of not only the date, but also the time of the incident. It is possible that traffic cameras captured some of the event or that witnesses might be called. Knowing the approximate time could help to corroborate your version of events.
Where Did the Accident Happen?
It might seem obvious, but you can get pretty frazzled after even a minor auto accident. Take a moment to jot down the intersection, or if on a rural road, any nearby landmarks.
In the end, the best protection is prevention. Practice defensive driving, and also familiarize yourself with your insurance policy. Many drivers carry only the state’s insurance minimum, and while this saves money in the short run, it could cost you money down the road – especially if you are a victim of vandalism or damage from hail, storms, or fire and you find out that your policy doesn’t cover such losses.
Have you ever filed an insurance claim due to an accident or vandalism? What steps did you have to take?