In a matter of seconds, you can be in a car accident. it could just be an accident at best. in the worst case, there could be injury or death. After assessing the situation and making sure that you and other parties are safe, you need to take the next step and file an auto insurance claim. that process alone can be overwhelming and fill you with questions like how do insurance claims work? We’re breaking down the insurance claims process and answering frequently asked questions about auto insurance claims.
what is a car insurance claim?
An auto insurance claim is a type of report you submit to your auto insurance provider after an accident to obtain financial compensation to cover damages related to the accident. The insurance claims process can vary by provider and also by the type of auto insurance you have.
A car insurance claim will only be approved if your insurance policy covers it. for example, comprehensive and collision coverage will generally cover most things. however, liability insurance only covers the other driver’s property damage and/or bodily injury if they are found at fault. so it must be within the coverage of your car insurance.
The auto insurance claims process may also differ depending on the nature of the event. for example, the auto accident insurance claim process will be different from a stolen car insurance claim investigation.
how exactly do insurance claims work?
Usually, you need to file a car insurance claim after a car accident or an instance of car theft or damage. Here’s a breakdown of how car insurance claims work.
Step 1: Obtain details and information about the incident
As part of the auto accident, vehicle damage or personal injury insurance claim process, you’ll first want to get details about what happened. Generally, you’ll want to collect the following information to get started:
- names and contact information of everyone involved
- insurance policies for both parties (as part of a car accident claim proceeding versus a stolen car insurance claim investigation)
- the date, time and location of the incident
- photos of any damage
- a copy of the police or accident report
Preparing this information ahead of time can make the next step in the process smoother and easier for everyone.
Step 2 – Contact your auto insurance provider and file a claim
After preparing all the information and documentation, the next step is to contact your auto insurance provider and file a claim.
When you file a claim with your auto insurance provider, you will be connected with a claims adjuster. the adjuster will review all the information and determine which party is at fault. in some states, an insurance company may find you partially at fault and therefore partially liable.
Step 3 – Get Approved for a Car Insurance Claim and Get Paid
After a claim is filed, it must be processed and approved to move forward. Remember, the details of the incident will be reviewed and will be based on what your auto insurance policy covers.
During the insurance claims process, the claims specialist will help determine who was at fault in the incident.
If the other party to the accident is found to be at fault, your auto insurance company may seek payments from the other driver’s insurance provider. if you are found to be at fault, you will have to pay the auto insurance deductible that would apply to the damage to your vehicle.
step 4: fix your vehicle and check your bonus
See also: How Much Is Insurance for a New Car?
Once you file an auto insurance claim and it is approved, you may receive payment to repair the damage to your car. If you disagree with the settlement, you can begin the auto insurance claim dispute process.
Your auto insurance provider may have a list of preferred body shops in their network for you to choose from to get your car repaired.
Make sure you have any damage repaired as soon as possible to make sure you’re safe on the road (for example, you may still be able to drive your car, but you want to make sure it’s safe and legal). If your car is in the shop, be sure to check with your insurance provider about rental reimbursement or any Lyft/Uber rideshare benefits.
Once everything is settled, you’ll want to review your auto insurance coverage to make sure your policy still fits your needs. If you were found to be at fault for the accident, your car insurance premium will likely increase when it’s time to renew, which may be a good time to shop for car insurance.
How do car insurance deductibles work?
A car insurance deductible is an amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance company covers anything. So let’s say you had a $1,000 deductible and the damage to your car would cost $3,000; Your auto insurance provider would cover $2,000 for the repairs.
It’s important to know how much your deductible is and what kind of coverage you have, like collision coverage or comprehensive coverage.
frequently asked questions about auto insurance claims
You may have a lot of questions about how auto insurance claims work, so here are some answers to some frequently asked questions.
do I need to file a car insurance claim?
yes, in most cases, filing an auto insurance claim is recommended. You must report and file a claim if there has been an accident. if there is minimal damage and no injuries, some people think it’s a good idea to settle with the other party (hint: it often isn’t).
You could set yourself up for trouble down the line if they realize the damage is greater than they initially thought, and your auto insurance company may not cover it because you didn’t report it.
If the damage to your car is minor, say scraping the side door, and no one else is involved, you generally don’t need to file a claim. the cost of the repair may be less than your auto insurance deductible, which means you’ll have to pay for necessary repairs out of pocket. it’s best to check with your insurance provider if you have any questions or concerns, so they can help you through this process.
when should i file a car insurance claim?
You should file a claim if there has been an accident or injury involving another party as soon as possible. many states have certain thresholds that require a report to the dmv. this is usually handled throughout the claims process. however, if the damage is above the threshold and a claim has not been filed, you will still need to file the report. For example, California has a threshold of $1k that requires an SR-1 form. Failure to submit this could result in consequences including suspension of driver’s license or registration.
If you’ve been the victim of a stolen car, file a claim quickly so your auto insurance can begin a stolen car insurance claim investigation.
Should I file a claim with my insurance or the other person’s insurance?
If a car accident is your fault, you’ll want to file a claim with your own insurance company.
If you are not at fault and have collision coverage, it is a good idea to file a claim with your own insurance company. this is a good route if the other party is uncooperative or has problems with their insurance.
Finally, if you are not at fault and want to avoid paying your car deductible, you can file a claim with the other party’s insurance. however, it is recommended that you apply with your own insurance provider and you may qualify for a deductible waiver as your insurance will handle the process for you through subrogation. Regardless of the route you choose, always notify your insurance provider of a loss or any incident or accident.
Should I use my insurance company’s network of repair shops?
After a car accident, your auto insurance company may offer you a network of repair shops to help repair the damaged vehicle. These repair shops are vetted and help keep costs affordable, but you are not required to use them. If you have another repair shop that you would prefer to work with, you are welcome to do so.
Some people may be able to get a total loss payment when the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle, so you may not need to visit a repair shop.
How long do I have before I have to file a car insurance claim?
You should file a claim with your auto insurance provider as soon as possible after an accident. check your insurance policy for claim filing requirements.
why the auto insurance claim process is important
Whether you’re in an accident or dealing with auto theft or some other issue, the auto insurance claim process is important for a number of reasons. auto insurance can provide financial support or peace of mind during a difficult time.
Ideally, the auto insurance claims process should be easy to manage, but it can often lead to a lot of back and forth. That’s why Metromile set out to create a car insurance claim procedure unlike any other.
how auto insurance claims work with metromile
Traditional auto insurance companies treat filing a claim differently than Metromile. In particular, Metromile aims to save you a hassle by using technology to help you with the car accident insurance claim procedure. In some cases, your entire claim could be fully automated, meaning you can get back on your feet more quickly.
we have ava, which is metromile’s ai claims system that can make the auto insurance claims process easier than ever. ava guides you through obtaining damage photos, gathering information, and even same-day payment for some claims. Using this innovative technology, you can solve the problem at hand sooner. For example, Ava can help determine what really happened and connect you with local repair shops or rental cars for your convenience.
Our goal is to make auto insurance perfect. Because when you’re in a position where you need to file a claim, the last thing you need is to add more stress to your plate.
the end result
Having auto insurance coverage is excellent financial protection for drivers. No one wants to file a claim or be in an accident, but your auto insurance is designed for situations like this and helps protect you and ensure you can get on with your life. If you’re wondering how car insurance claims work, you now have a better idea of the insurance claims process with this breakdown. If you want to buy better insurance now or after an accident, consider Metromile. if you don’t drive often, you could see substantial savings by paying for the miles you actually drive, rather than a flat rate for the miles you don’t drive. get a free quote today.
melanie lockert is a freelance writer, mental health and wealth show podcast host, and estimated debt author. she’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, miles and thelonious, an avid boxer, a music lover, and she needs coffee to function.