Some drivers are fortunate enough that they never need to find out the answer to the question, “How do I file an auto insurance claim?” personally. When an accident occurs, a policyholder has an obligation to report the incident to the insurance company, even if the damage to the vehicle and/or any injuries sustained are relatively minor.
Your insurance policy is a legally-binding contract between you and your auto insurance provider. As long as you make your premium payments as agreed, the insurance company is required to provide coverage up to the coverage limit you chose to buy. In return, you have an obligation to cooperate with your insurance company to provide the information it needs to evaluate and settle any claims made against your policy. Part of your obligation to your auto insurance provider is to allow the company to inspect it to evaluate any damage.
Contact the Auto Insurance Company
The first step in filing an auto insurance claim is to contact the company in a reasonable time following the accident. Most companies have a dedicated number which policyholders can use to file a claim. If your insurance company doesn’t have this service on a 24/7 basis and the accident occurred outside of regular business hours, contact the company as soon as the phone lines are open.
When you contact the insurance company, your call may be answered by a call center employee. You will be asked some basic questions at this point. The person on the phone will let you know when you can expect to hear from a claims adjuster. You should make a point of asking for the adjuster’s name and the phone number of the office which will be dealing with your claim going forward.
Give a Statement to the Claims Adjuster
The adjuster assigned to your file will contact you and take a statement. Be prepared for the adjuster to ask for your permission to record your conversation. He or she will ask you to describe the accident, as well as any damage to your car and the injuries you or your passengers sustained.
Once you have given the adjuster a statement, he or she will explain how the insurance company will evaluate the damage to your car. You may be asked to take the car to a repair shop or an appraiser may come to your home to view it.
You are not obligated to have any repair work done by the body shop the insurance company recommends. If you have used a particular repair shop in the past and were pleased with the results, you can take your car there or to any other garage of your choice.
Along with the claim for physical damage to your car, you are also required to tell the insurance company about your injuries and the medical treatment you were given. The insurance company will ask you to fill out a form consenting to the release of your medical records and bills relating to the accident. The company will not be able to pay out on your personal injury claims unless it can confirm that the expenses were incurred as a result of the accident.