Getting into a car crash is overwhelming. On top of damage to your car, you may have injuries or worry about the cost of repairs. Whether you recently experienced a major crash or a minor fender bender, the process of filing an insurance claim can be stressful. Prepare yourself by becoming familiar with the basic steps of how to file auto insurance claims.
How to file an auto insurance claim
Contact the police immediately
Despite our best defensive driving efforts, most of us experience a crash at some point during our lives. Perhaps someone backed into your car in a parking lot or ignored a traffic signal. Regardless of the cause of the crash, it is important to call the police right away so that injuries can be addressed and the event can be documented properly.
In addition to making sure everyone is safe, the officer who arrives at the scene will record many of the facts that you will need for your insurance claim to be complete. These include where and when the crash took place, identifying information for the parties involved, insurance information and a description of what occurred.
Inform your insurance carrier
While the police report of your crash will not be available immediately, contact your insurance company right away. Whether you contact your insurance agent directly, call your carrier’s 1-800 number or file online, have your policy information on hand. During the initial filing, be prepared to provide your insurance policy number, driver’s license number and other identifying information.
A representative will explain the claims process and walk you through a series of questions regarding your crash. You will be asked to provide details of the incident as well as the date, time, parties involved, and any injuries you incurred. The insurance company will request a copy of the police report when it is available as this will aid in the investigation.
In addition to taking an account of the crash, the representative will schedule a time for your vehicle to be inspected. An adjuster will come to the location of your car to write up an estimate for the necessary repairs.
Ask questions about coverage and deductibles
Do you recall the details of your auto insurance coverage? Most of us pay our premiums but don’t think much about our policy until we get into a crash. Make sure to ask about your deductible so that you can plan financially for car repairs. Your deductible is the amount that you will owe before insurance covers the remainder. For instance, a $500 deductible means that you will owe $500 regardless of the total amount of repair needed for your car. If the other driver’s insurance company ultimately accepts fault for the crash, your deductible eventually will be returned to you.
In cases where the damage to your car is so great that it cannot be driven, you will need a rental car. Even if your vehicle incurs less damage, you will need one for the time it is at the body shop. Ask about your rental car coverage so that you stay within the limits of your policy and minimize additional cost.
Be patient during the claim investigation
Once a car crash is reported, your insurance carrier will investigate to determine the nature of the crash and the severity of any damage to the individuals and vehicles involved. If there are differences between what you and the other party have reported, you may receive a call from the insurance company of the other driver. It can be stressful to recount the details of a crash repeatedly, so make sure to remain patient and calm so that you can accurately describe exactly what took place.
Track your insurance claim regularly
One of the most stressful parts of filing an auto insurance claim is waiting for it to be settled. Even the nicest of rental cars is no substitute for the comfort of your vehicle. Keep track of the progress on your claim, and stay in touch with those who are responsible for managing repairs. You will be back on the road in your own car faster if you answer questions promptly and remain active throughout the process.
Take care of your injuries
In the aftermath of an crash, we often think about costly car repairs, but tending to injuries should be at the top of our to-do list. Keep up with appointments such as physical therapy, rest when advised, and listen to your doctors. If any changes in your medical care are recommended, communicate these with your insurance carrier as well.
While safe driving can reduce the chance of a car crash, most of us will experience one at some point in our lives. Review your policy periodically, and keep these steps in mind so that filing an auto insurance claim can be as smooth as possible.
Do you have a question about how to file an insurance claim? Still have questions about car insurance? Contact a AAA Insurance agent at AAA.com/Insurance or 866-222-7871.