How to make an insurance claim.
Making an auto insurance
the accident scene: call 911 if someone has a life-threatening
injury. If there's no emergency, get any needed medical attention and call
the police directly. You will need that police report.
Exchange license plate
numbers, contact information, including phone numbers and auto insurance
information with the other parties. Most states require drivers to have an
insurance identification card in the vehicle and it will provide most of the
Ask any witnesses if they
will be willing to tell what they saw and get their contact information as
Police officers may try to avoid taking an accident report, assuming that
the damage is minimal. However, you can insist on a report.
"Finding fault" is very important.
The majority of states
have adopted "comparative negligence." This concept is based on the idea
that no one party is necessarily completely at fault, but that fault is just
a matter of degree. Your settlement may be reduced based on the degree of
Contact your insurance
company as soon as possible. You may call your company right from the scene.
Your insurance ID card should provide the number.
if the other party is at fault, you should file the claim with your own
insurance carrier. Each carrier is obliged to protect the interests of its
own insured, making your claim a secondary concern for the other party's
If the other party is at fault and you do not have
collision coverage on your vehicle, you will have to file a claim against
the other party's carrier. If the other party doesn't have insurance, you
will have to negotiate with the other party directly or go to court.
Itemize every expense
involved. At the end of the process, you submit this itemized list to your
You will get a phone call
from the other company asking for your version of events that led to the
accident. Especially with an injury claim, check with your insurance carrier
to see what statements you need to make to the other insurance carrier.
Write down exactly what
you will tell the other carrier beforehand so that your statement will
remain consistent. Don't trust your memory.
The adjuster will come
out to take a look at the damage to your vehicle and come up with an
estimate of what it will take to restore it (or replace it, if it's
totaled). Then, the insurance company will cut a
check in the amount of the repair, minus any collision deductible amount.
If an insurance company
has a direct repair program, the adjuster might not even have to come out.
Under such a program, your insurance carrier will refer you to a shop with
which they have an agreement. The shop may also be able to make arrangements
for a rental vehicle.
adjuster says the car is totaled (beyond repair), the adjuster will estimate
your compensation on the actual cash value (or depreciated value) of the
vehicle before the accident, essentially enabling you to buy a similar used
car. If you've bought coverage for replacement cost value, the estimate will
cover the cost of buying a similar new vehicle.
If you think your
carrier's damage settlement offer is too low, you may ask your carrier for a
form of arbitration to resolve the dispute. In most cases, the insurance
company will pay you the amount it offered immediately, and you'll get the
rest when and if the dispute is resolved in your favor.
If you disagree with an
offer from the other party's carrier, you may or may not be offered such
dispute resolution. If not and the amount in dispute is significant, it may
be worthwhile to take legal action.
Insurance claim after a storm