You have had an accident or had another type of damage to your automobile. You checked the policy and were relieved that you are covered for the losses. Also, you considered the size of the damages and still like to go ahead with it, rather than paying out of pocket. First thing you need to do is to find out about the auto insurance company’s claim procedure. Some offer the option of uploading documents, estimates, pictures of damages and file it online. Alternatively, they send the forms in the post. Let’s have a look at the process step by step.
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 the insurer deal with it efficiently;
· Names and contact details of other drivers, passengers and witnesses in the crash as well as the contact details of the other drivers and their policy details.
· 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 account of the events as detailed as possible.
If the auto is stolen you will need to report it to the police and get a crime reference number to be submitted.
If you have had minor accidents where no other party was involved, weather related or other happenings to the vehicle or vandalism you should talk to the carrier. Quite a few prefer to settle minor amounts fast and they may want you to get estimates for repairs and send them in with pictures of the car. It can actually be settled there and then by looking at them if it is not a large sum.
What May Be Discussed with Your Insurer after Submitting the Claim?
Most of them excel in customer service these days. Probably, someone will contact you shortly to discuss how they will proceed. Or you may get an e-mail confirming the 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 addressed at initial contact.
· They may ask you questions about some points in the 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 financial loss claims against you. Or if you want to make a counter on other parties on your own or need help.
· They may discuss the automobile, the preferred body 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 the progress and if there would be online updates.
· Answering any questions you may have and discussing the next step.
Arranging Vehicle Inspection
Normally, there would be an adjuster appointed to handle it. This person would check the damages, negotiate with the garages and approve the repairs. Often adjusters can come over the next day and make the arrangements. Also, this person would be the best point of contact until the settlement because he/she would have the answers.
Quite a few don’t do inspections for small fender benders any more. They require images and at least two estimates from a reputable body shop. As soon as they get these they can settle it without the need to see the vehicle. This may be the case with losses under $1,000.
If the vehicle is totaled or deemed not found after it is stolen, the company will offer you a settlement around the current market value of it. Most Carriers 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
They come in various types, sizes and complications. Most companies will be as helpful and quick as they can. However, some people may feel that they are being manhandled in the process. You need to know that you have rights written down on policy documents. Here are a few points to be aware of;
· Most policies allow you to choose the mechanic you want. For whatever reason they may be keen for you to use their approved shops. Remember that you can say no. In some cases, they prefer sending you a check for the repairs and be done with it. The rest is then up to you.
· There is a chance that you may be low-balled by the 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, the 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 another driver’s fault, you may decide to claim from a third party auto insurer directly. If the other driver agrees to fault and has sufficient coverage his/her carrier will agree to paying damages eventually.
· Alternatively, you may want to get the provider involved so that repairs are done in a timely manner. You may choose your own policy 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 provider are becoming difficult to deal with 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 an account of the events. The rest will be dealt by the insurance company on your behalf. These especially the injury ones 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 claim is handled, you have several options available to you. Follow the link to read a 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 and any third party losses will be paid. There are a few studies that looked into policyholders’ experiences and ranked companies accordingly. One of those studies is mentioned in the above linked page where you can find them ranked according to customers’ claim satisfaction. Knowing that the carrier will pay up in a timely manner and with least dissatisfaction is a good start. You will probably need to know who has the cheapest vehicle insurance as well because your wallet has its limits. You can be pretty happy about the provider if it is reputable and affordable.