Picture this: You are driving along the highway, and in a split second, another car rear-ends you. Your vehicle is damaged, and you are shaken up and in pain. You may be wondering what to do next.
The first thing you should do is seek medical attention if you are injured. Once you have been treated or seen a doctor, you need to file an insurance claim. This can be a daunting task, but we are here to help.
You must remember that the laws governing car insurance companies vary from state to state. However, there are some basic steps you will need to follow to file a successful claim, no matter where you live.
Here is everything you need to know about filing a car accident insurance claim.
What Is an Insurance Claim?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of filing an insurance claim, let’s first define what an insurance claim is. An insurance claim is a demand made by a policyholder to an insurance company for payment of benefits or compensation under the terms of the insurance policy.
There are two types of insurance claims: first-party and third-party.
A first-party claim is made by the policyholder to their own insurance company. An example of this would be if you needed to make a claim on your homeowner’s insurance after your house was damaged in a storm.
A third-party claim is when the policyholder makes a claim against another person’s insurance company. An example would be if you were in a car accident and needed to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on third-party claims, as that is what is most relevant to car accidents.
What To Do After a Car Accident
The first thing you need to do after a car accident is to stop your vehicle and turn off the engine. Once you have done that, you should check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately.
If everyone is okay, the next step is to move your vehicle out of the way of traffic, if possible. If you cannot move your car, turn on your hazard lights.
Once you have taken care of the immediate safety concerns, you can exchange information with the other driver. You will need their name, contact information, insurance company, policy number, and license plate number.
You should also try to get the contact information of any witnesses to the accident. If the police come to the scene, they will likely file a report. Ask the officer for a copy of the report, as you will need this when you file your insurance claim.
How to File an Insurance Claim
The first step in filing an insurance claim is to contact your insurance company. You will need to inform them that you have been in an accident and provide them with the basic details, such as when and where it happened.
Your insurance provider will assign a claims adjuster to your case. The claims adjuster’s job is to investigate the accident and determine who was at fault. They will also estimate the cost of the damage to your vehicle.
Once the claims adjuster has finished their investigation, they will decide who was at fault and how much the insurance company will pay for the damages.
If you agree with the claims adjuster’s decision, you must sign a release form authorizing the insurance company to pay for the damages.
If you disagree with the claims adjuster’s decision, you can try to negotiate with them. If you cannot reach an agreement, you can file a complaint with your state’s insurance commissioner or hire an attorney.
When Should I File a Car Insurance Claim?
Typically, you will want to file a car insurance claim if someone else was at fault for the accident and you have suffered damages, such as to your vehicle or personal property.
If the damage is minor and can be easily repaired, you may want to just pay for it yourself rather than going through the hassle of filing a claim. This is because filing a claim will likely increase your premium.
However, if the damage is more significant, you will probably want to file a claim.
Remember that you only have a certain amount of time to file a car insurance claim, so it is essential to act quickly. Every state has different laws, but in general, you will have somewhere between one and three years from the date of the accident to file a claim.
What Should I Expect After Filing a Claim?
After filing a claim, the claims adjuster will contact you to get more information about the accident. They may also ask you to provide documentation, such as a copy of the police report or medical records.
The claims adjuster will investigate the accident and determine who was at fault. Once they have decided, they will contact you to let you know how much the insurance company is willing to pay for the damages.
If you agree with the settlement offer, you must sign a release form authorizing the insurance company to pay for the repairs. If you disagree with the settlement offer, you can try to negotiate with the claims adjuster.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you can file a complaint with your state’s insurance commissioner or hire an attorney.
After a car accident, knowing what to do and when to file an insurance claim is essential. Understanding the process and following these steps can make filing a car accident insurance claim much easier.
Have you ever had to file an insurance claim? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below.