You have had an accident or had another type of damage to your automobile. You checked your policy and relieved that you are covered for the losses. Also, considered about the size of the damages and still like to go ahead and make a claim. First thing you need to do is to find out about your auto insurance company claim procedure. Some companies offer the option of filling the claim, uploading auto damage pictures and files online or you can request a claim form.
What You Need to Prepare to Submit with the Claim?
If you had an accident involving other automobiles you will probably need the following information to help your insurer deal with the claim efficiently;
· Names and contact details of other drivers, passengers and witnesses in the accident as well as the contact details of other drivers’ insurance companies.
· Details of injuries you know of. Details of other cars involved with their license plate number and damages to them.
· Any pictures you have taken, videos you may have had from a dashboard camera and your account of the events as detailed as possible.
If you have had your auto stolen you will need to report it to the police and get a crime reference number to be submitted to your insurer.
If you have had minor accidents where no other party involved, weather related or other accidental damages to your vehicle or vandalism you should talk to your insurance company. Many companies prefer to settle minor claims fast and they may want you to get estimates for repairs and send them in with pictures of the car after damages. It is known for companies to settle your claim there and then looking at your estimates and pictures if it is not large losses.
What May Be Discussed with Your Insurer after Submitting the Claim?
Most auto insurance companies excel in customer service these days. Probably, someone from the company will contact you pretty quickly to discuss how they will proceed with the claim. Or you may get an e-mail confirming the claim reference number and contact details for the department handling it. If you don’t hear anything within the week call them and ask if there is something you can do to speed things up. These are the points which may be address at initial contact.
· They may ask you questions about some points in the claim form, check the availability of certain information and if you could send it in.
· They may want to check who you think was responsible for the accident, if other vehicles are involved. If you think there would be injury and third party property damage claims against you. Or if you want to make a claim on other parties on your own or with the help of the company.
· They may discuss about the damages to your automobile, the preferred body repair shop and how you want to proceed. They can always suggest an approved body shop.
· Any rental car arrangements if you have the coverage.
· How you can check about your claim and if there would be online updates.
· Answering any questions you may have and discussing about the next step.
Arranging Vehicle Inspection
Normally, there would be a claims adjuster appointed to handle your claim. This person would check the damages, negotiate with the repair shops and approve the repairs. With some companies claims adjusters can see the damages the next day and make the arrangements. Also, this person would be your best point of contact until the settlement because he/she would have the answers.
Quite a few companies don’t do inspections for small claims any more. They require some pictures and at least two estimates for the repairs from a reputable body shop. As soon as they get these they can settle the claim without the need to see the vehicle. This may be the case with damages under $1,000.
If your vehicle is totaled or deemed not found after it is stolen, the company will offer you a settlement around the current market value of your vehicle. Most companies total automobiles if the repair costs are around 70 – 80% of its market value.
Other Points to Keep in Mind While Making a Car Insurance Claim
Claims come in various types, sizes and complication. Most companies will be as helpful and quick as they can. However, some people may feel that they are being manhandled by their insurers in the process. You need to know that you have rights written down on your policy document. Here are a few points to be aware of;
· Most policies allow you to choose the body repair shop you want. For whatever reason your company or adjuster may be keen for you to use their approved shops. Remember that you can say no. In some cases, your insurer wouldn’t mind sending you a check for the repairs and done with it. The rest is then up to you.
· There is a chance that you may be low-balled by the claims adjuster when they offer you a settlement. Again there is a possibility that he/she is taking a chance to see if you will accept it. You may be able to negotiate a bit more money within reason as long as you are prepared to make a good case for it.
· If you so want, your auto insurer may sell the salvaged auto if it is totaled. You can let them know and they will tell you how much they want for it.
· If the accident is deemed to be other driver’s fault, you may decide to claim from third party auto insurer directly. If the other driver agrees to fault and has sufficient coverage his/her carrier will agree to paying your damages eventually.
· Alternatively, you may want to get your provider involved so that your repairs are done in a timely manner. You may choose your insurer to pay for it (if you have the coverage) and try to subrogate from third party insurers. You may be forced to go this route if the third parties and/or their insurers are becoming difficult to deal or not moving things along as fast as you like.
· If this is a liability claim against you by people you caused injuries and property damages, you will be asked to provide your account of the events. The rest will be dealt by the insurance company on your behalf. This claims especially the injury one can take a while to settle as parties involved would want to see full recovery before they close the case. You can regularly check on how it is going and hope that you have sufficient coverage. They will let you know if you don’t anyway.
· If things are not going according to plan and you are not satisfied with the way your claim is handled, you have several options available to you. Follow the link to read detailed explanation of the steps you can take.
How to Find the Top Auto Insurance Companies for Paying Claims
You need to make sure that your claims will be paid by the insurer you choose. There are a few studies that looked into claim experience of policyholders and ranked companies accordingly. One of those studies is mentioned in the above linked page where you can find top car insurers ranked according to claim satisfaction of their policyholders. Knowing that your insurer has a good record of settling claims in a timely manner and with least dissatisfaction is a good start when choosing an insurer. You will probably need to know who has the cheapest auto insurance as well because your wallet has its limits. You can be pretty happy about your carrier if it is reputable and affordable.