How to File Car Accident Insurance Claims

If you are wondering whether your collision claims process will be more difficult to bear than the accident itself, the good news is that filing a claim is usually fairly simple. By following a systematic approach and carefully recording what has happened, you can gather all of the information you need.  The following guidelines will help you ensure the process goes smoothly.

1. Check the Accident Scene and Get Emergency Help

Before you and the other driver contact your insurance providers to file automobile insurance claims, get your vehicle to a safe place and make sure everyone is okay. If anyone is injured, call 911. The most important thing to do is ensure that any medical emergencies are taken care of immediately.   Next, contact the police to report the accident. They will be able to file a report and take down necessary information for your insurance agent.

2. Document Everything

There are many factors that go into a collision, some of which may not have been avoidable. Never admit you caused an accident. Do not blame the other driver either. Often it takes a police officer and/or an insurance adjuster to determine what happened and who is at fault.    The best approach is to document the accident. If possible:

  • Take photos of the damage to all vehicles involved.
  • Photograph the accident scene and any property damage.
  • Take photos of identifiers, such as intersections and addresses.
  • Gather accurate information from other people involved.
  • Take clear pictures of insurance cards, license plates and other identifying information.

By documenting the accident, you will be able to help prevent false claims from the other driver or others involved.

3. Contact Your Agent

In Case of Accident

When an accident or theft occurs, it is important to file an auto insurance claim as soon as possible. Have your vehicle information ready, as well as details about what happened. When you file an accident insurance claim, your agent will ask some basic questions that will ultimately pertain to your auto accident insurance settlement.   For example:

  • Was anyone injured?
  • Where is your vehicle?
  • Does it need to be towed?
  • What happened?

Describe what happened as clearly as possible. Provide the police report numbers and insurance information you gathered from anyone else involved. If your car has been taken in for repairs, include the contact information for the repair shop.

In Case of Theft

If you are filing a stolen vehicle claim, describe where and when the theft took place to the best of your ability. Include information on any police investigation, along with the police report number.

In Case of Vandalism

If your car is vandalized, describe the visible damage. Take photos of the vandalism and the crime scene. If you have reported the crime to the police, include the report number.

4. Follow up on Your Claim

When filing auto insurance claims, it is important to follow up. Your agent will work with you to provide details, help complete the claims process and make sure you receive your auto accident insurance settlement if your claim is covered. Depending on the type of coverage you have, an insurance adjuster will offer a settlement based on the cost of repairs. If your car is considered a total loss, your agent will offer a settlement based on the value of the vehicle before the crash. Auto accident insurance settlements may take weeks or months to be finalized, in the event of a particularly complicated auto accident. Your agent will go over the entire process and the expected timeline with you. While the settlement is being processed, stay in contact with your agent.