Auto claims and accidents can be a stressful time, but they do not have to be. Understanding the claims process from beginning to end can help simplify and quicken the process.
1) Report Claim
After an auto accident, file a police report. Be sure that you are in a safe place to report the accident to your independent agent. First, contact your insurance advisor. While you always have the option to report your claim directly, your insurance advisor provides helpful advice on which insurance carrier to report the claim with when there are multiple parties involved. Secondly, your insurance advisor can advise you of any applicable deductibles and recommendations on next steps.
Your insurance advisor may report the claim on your behalf or advise you to report the claim directly to your carrier. Reporting the claim directly to your insurance carrier allows you to provide all detailed information that you have. Typically, this is the quickest way for an auto insurance claim to be filed.
QUICK TIP: If it is clear that the other party is at-fault or the other party was cited at the accident scene, it is best to file your claim with the other party’s insurer.
2) Adjuster Assignment
An adjuster is generally assigned to handle your claim within 24 hours. They will be your primary point of contact and they are responsible for approving payouts for your damages. Keep their contact information handy.
3) Damage Evaluation
If your vehicle is damaged, you are always welcome to take your vehicle to your preferred dealership or body shop. However, keep in mind that your insurance carrier may have partnerships with approved repair shops in the area. Many times, these partnerships will allow for quicker turnaround time on your vehicle repairs and some even guarantee the repairs for the life of the vehicle.
Once you obtain an estimate on your vehicle, the adjuster will review the estimate. They may also personally inspect extensive damage.
Seek immediate treatment if you have injuries. Advise your health care providers that your injuries were sustained in a car accident. Provide them with your auto insurance information for you and the other driver’s policy, if applicable. You will also need to provide the health care provider with your health insurance details. Keep documentation of all medical bills, payments, and receipts and be sure to submit these documents to your insurance carrier or the other driver’s insurance carrier promptly.
5) Claim Payments
After the investigation and estimates are completed, the insurance carrier will begin to make payments to you or your repair shop. These payments will be made less your deductible, which is generally at least $500.
6) Repairs or Replacement
While claim payments are being made, the repair process has generally already started. During your repair process, ask the body shop about repairing your car with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. While not all insurance carriers will approve paying for this option, they should give you the option to pay the extra cost to have your car repaired with original parts.
If your vehicle has been totaled, they will provide you with a payment for the damages to your vehicle. If you still have a loan on your vehicle, please be sure that your loan is paid off prior to cashing that check and going to the dealership to purchase a replacement vehicle.
7) Rental Car
Check that your policy provides Rental Reimbursement coverage. While your vehicle is being repaired or you are still searching for a replacement vehicle, you have access to a Rental Car up to a certain price each day. Generally, the insurance carrier will pay for a rental vehicle for a reasonable time, up to a maximum of 30 days, while the vehicle is being repaired or replaced.
8) Claim Closure
After the damage is repaired and you are satisfied with the repairs and reimbursement of your damages, your insurance carrier will close your claim.
We always recommend that you talk to your insurance advisor as soon as possible after an auto claim, but this handy guide can give you an idea of what goes on behind the scenes throughout the process. If you have questions, please contact your account manager today.