Tips For Filing A Car Insurance Claim
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Being involved in a car accident is stressful, even if it's a minor one. And, while filing a claim isn't quite as stressful, it still can be an unpleasant or intimidating experience - especially if you're never been through the process with your current auto insurance company.
So, here's a general idea of what to expect; perhaps reading this will put you a bit more at ease with the process.
As a whole, car insurers have taken steps to make the insurance claim process easier for their customers. While most still allow you to call a toll-free number and report your accident to a claims center or a customer service rep, many now give you the option of doing so online through their site. (With some carriers, this is the only option.)
To file online, you may need to log into your insurer's claims page with a user name and password. Or, you might be asked to give your policy number, Social Security number, or some other unique way to identify yourself before entering the accident information. After doing so, the online system will guide you through the rest of the process.
To file by phone, just call the number provided by your insurer to file a claim. A representative from the company should walk you through the claims process by asking a variety of questions.
Each insurer will ask for different information, but here's a standard list of questions you should expect to answer. Before you turn on the computer or pick up the phone, have this information ready to go:
- Policy number (can be found on your insurance card).
- Date of the accident.
- Location of the accident.
- Description of how the accident occurred.
- Name, address, license plate, and insurance information for the other party involved.
- Name of the police department involved (if applicable).
- Police report number (if applicable).
Again, your carrier may ask for additional information, but this should cover most of what's needed. Be sure to file your claim promptly after the accident, if possible.
Once you've filed the claim, the process varies depending on your insurer and the type of claim. If your insurer isn't clear about what you should expect, ask for more information. Remember, you pay your insurer exactly for moments like this. So, speak up.
In general, though, an insurance adjuster may evaluate the damage to your car or ask you to get some estimates. You may be asked to take your vehicle to a body shop that's approved by your carrier.
And, depending on the situation, you might get a call from the other person's insurance company (if it's not the same as yours) asking you to provide your version of what happened, or to verify your information.
And in some cases, you should consider bringing in the counsel of an attorney who specializes in the personal injury field. They may be able to expedite the process.
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