How to File a Car Insurance Claim
Being involved in a car accident is upsetting enough without having to worry about making a claim with your insurance company. While your safety should always be primary, don’t wait too long to gather the required documentation and let your agent know about the accident.
How to File a Claim
Most insurance companies allow clients to complete claim forms online. If you prefer this option, make sure you have your policy number and all details about the accident available. This includes such things as the date, time, circumstances that led to the accident, and the name and contact information for the other driver. You can also provide these details to your agent over the telephone. Before you do, we encourage you to follow the do’s and dont’s outlined below.
To avoid unnecessary delays in processing your claim, plan to do the following:
- Review your policy before you submit your online claim or call your agent. It is especially important to pay attention to any exclusion that may apply to your policy as well as your coverage limits.
- Be sure to take detailed notes every time you speak to a representative from your insurance company. Some things to jot down include the name of the person you speak to, his or her job title, supervisor’s name, and the time and date of the call. If you correspond by email or snail mail, keep a copy of everything you send and receive.
- Take pictures of your vehicle after the accident. It would be helpful to do so at the scene of the accident, but you may not be thinking clearly at that time. Your agent may ask you to upload or email images if you can.
- Review any coverage you might have with other companies. Umbrella insurance companies are a common source of additional coverage as are homeowner’s policies and supplemental policies sold by credit card companies.
- Keep receipts for any expenses associated with recovering from your injuries or pursuing your claim. Examples include meals, medical supplies, and hotel costs.
- Make sure that you know the difference between depreciated or actual cash value and replacement coverage in your insurance policy. This is important because policies that provide replacement value should not require you to replace items and then submit forms for reimbursement.
- Be honest with your insurance agent, even if you caused the accident and you feel embarrassed by it. Omitting facts or stretching the truth could cause cancellation of your policy or the requirement to pay back some or the entire claim later.
You should also avoid doing several things after an accident, including the following:
- Don’t give a written or recorded statement to your insurance company if you have any confusion about your coverage. Additionally, keep in mind you don’t have to give your approval for your agent to record you if you’re not comfortable with the idea.
- Don’t overlook the fact you have limited time to submit a signed proof of loss. If you plan to take legal action against your insurer for an inadequate claim settlement, you typically only have one year from the date of the accident to do this.
- Don’t feel like you must automatically accept your insurance company’s claim offer. Keep in mind your insurer is in business to make money and could make an initial lowball offer.
- Don’t sign a release or waiver from future claims without obtaining legal advice. This is true even when you feel desperate to settle due to outstanding expenses associated with the accident.
- Even if you don’t plan to pursue legal action, you may remember additional losses such as property damage or medical costs that you forgot to include initially.
- Don’t allow your insurance company to keep putting you off about your claim. It has a legal responsibility to pay claims per the parameters of your policy.
- Don’t accept a check stamped final payment until you feel confident that you understand your policy and you’re receiving a fair settlement.
You would like to assume you will receive fair treatment from your insurance provider at this stressful time, but unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Please contact Angotti & Straface for a free case consultation if you are considering legal action against your own insurance company.