How To File An Insurance Claim

insurance claim
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No one wants to be in the position of having to file an insurance claim, as it means you had to experience quite a stressful situation regarding your car.

Nevertheless, you may be forced to deal with the steps of filing a claim, and if that’s the case, it’s convenient to be informed about what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

Keep reading and learn all the basics for filing an auto insurance claim.

What Is A Car Insurance Claim?

Policyholders file insurance claims when they want to request some sort of coverage for an accident or other situation that may have produced a car-related loss. It’s a way of compensating the insured party that suffered a financial (or even emotional) loss.

How To File An Insurance Claim

First of all, in case of a car crash, you need to call the police and then your insurance company to report the collision, whether you’re the party at fault or not in a car accident.

Second and as the required procedure after a traffic accident varies from state to state, ask your insurance agent for the right steps to follow. They will be able to walk you through the process.

Most of the times, they will request that you provide some information over the phone, like your name as well as that of the other drivers, your insurance policy number and all the license plates and drivers’ licenses.

In addition to this information, the police report will also be required, so as to provide detailed information from a reliable and impartial source regarding the car accident.

Now that you have informed the auto insurance company, your case will be assigned to an adjuster, and you will have to set a meeting to discuss the details of your premium coverage. After the meeting, the agent will assess your claims and compare them with the evidence available.

The last step is the final decision, that is, how much coverage you will be provided for the accident and any other pertinent details. The claim agent will determine how much it will cost to repair the vehicle.

Keep in mind: The repairs are generally mandatory if the driver wants to maintain the insurance coverage.

What Happens If A Driver Suffers Injuries?

Generally, if the person isn’t at fault, they will be covered by the other party’s liability coverage. Nevertheless, they must follow certain steps so as to have proof of the injuries, such as seeing a doctor, photographing the injuries and, of course, filing a police report.

Some states have a no-fault-personal injury coverage, which means that your insurance pays for your injuries, which were the result of an accident that wasn’t your fault.

The Consequences Of More Than One Insurance Claim

Having to file an insurance claim will require some paperwork on your part and, most of the times, a lot of money on the company’s part. That’s why most auto insurance companies have restrictions with reference to more than one insurance claim in a short period of time.

In some cases, the insurer will charge an additional percentage for 3 or more claims filed within 3 years; however, you should check with your company for the details.

What Happens If The Car Is Totaled?

A totaled car is, in most states, a car that would take more than 75% of its current market value to fix. In these cases, most auto insurance companies provide the total current price of the car coverage and, depending on the insurer, a car rental coverage.

Keep in mind: It’s important to ask for the car rental coverage because your company may not offer it directly.

Other Scenarios To File An Insurance Claim

Besides the typical car accident with more than one driver involved, an insurance claim could be filed for other reasons, like car theft, vandalism and weather-related car damage.

Additionally, you could have an accident that only involved your car. In this case, your company will probably charge you an additional percentage, given that, most of the time, single car accidents mean that the insured party was at fault.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Occasionally, drivers get anxious and take the car to the repair shop straight away without first consulting with the insurance company. This could be a big blunder, since companies have to approve all repair works done on the damaged car in order to cover it. If you make this mistake, you may be denied any type of coverage for the claim.

Another common mistake is forgetting to call the insurance company right away. This is a typical policy requirement for coverage to apply, as evidence is fresh and, consequently, easier to obtain.

Even though your insurance policy may not require you to call the police, state law generally does. It’s mandatory in cases such as vandalism or theft, but also for car collisions.

Furthermore, a police report can speed up the insurance claim process, since it’s a reliable source of information.

In order to avoid any miscommunications, keep record of every conversation or e-mail with your insurance agent. If you fail to do so, you may come across payment delays.

Tips To Settle An Insurance Claim

When do you need to settle an insurance claim? Well, if you’re in a traffic accident and you’re the non-fault party, filing an injury or property damage claim may be necessary.

If you’ve never had to deal with insurance claims, then you should know that sometimes the amount of money offered isn’t what you were expecting. Thankfully, you have the possibility of negotiating with the auto insurance company.

The insurance company may put forward some arguments to justify the payment, so that the have the best odds in the negotiation. A common one is that the amount you are claiming isn’t based on solid grounds, that you were to blame for the accident in some way or that you have not provided the necessary documentation.

In order to avoid such situation, make sure you provide detailed evidence, including:

  • Photographs of the scene of the collision
  • Medical expenses bills
  • The police report
  • List of the extent of the damage to your property and the cost of fixing it

Once you contact your insurance company with all the documentation, you will probably speak with the insurance claim adjuster that will be in charge of negotiating the settlement with you. Sometimes it’s necessary to go back and forth with offers and counteroffers before getting to a reasonable amount of money.

How Much To Ask For?

When calculating the amount of money you will claim, take into account the value of the property damage, your medical bills and any impairments that may force you to spend or lose money, for instance, having to hire personal care or having to miss work due to an injury.

Strategies When Negotiating

It sometimes happens that you come across a surprisingly low offer on the company’s part. However, don’t give in so quickly. Ask the claim adjuster to explain why the company is offering such a low settlement amount. You may be surprised by the lack of arguments.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should have a minimum amount you would be willing to accept. Nonetheless, don’t say it, if you do, you will lose all chance of obtaining more money for the claim.

When a driver hopes to obtain a certain amount of money on the insurance claim, firmness is a crucial personality trait but flexibility is just as important. You may learn that some facts weaken your argument and, as a consequence, make your claim lower.

Try to show your ability to compromise; an insurer will be more willing to negotiate with someone who is being reasonable.

Be Careful

If the claim adjuster asks you to record a conversation, it’s best to politely refuse until you have had time to go over it with a lawyer. If you are recorded, the adjuster may use that information against you in the negotiation.

After Negotiating

It’s time to put it in writing. Send a letter to the claim adjuster as soon as you settle the insurance claim. In it, the amount negotiated must be stated, as well as what that amount covers and the approximate date of payment.

Should I Hire A Lawyer?

Even though insurance claims can generally be solved without professional assistance, if the insurance company is dragging the negotiation for too long and you start doubting whether you’ll be given the money or not, an attorney may be necessary. This professional has the power to pressure the insurer to show more flexibility.

You may find it difficult to deal with an insurance claim; it’s nerve-wracking, but it’s the best way to get auto insurance coverage and be able to solve the situation without suffering a financial strain.

Auto insurance companies are there to provide you the security you need in collisions or other situations that damage your vehicle (and you can even save money on car insurance). So take your time to negotiate, gather the documentation and get your auto coverage as soon as possible.