Car Accident Insurance Claims Process | American Family Insurance

How do insurance claims on car accidents work

If you were in an accident on the road, would you know the proper steps to take to file a claim? If not, we’ve highlighted key information to help you feel confident about the claims process, so you know exactly what to do after a car accident.

what to do immediately after an accident

If you are in a car accident, first, if possible, move your vehicle to a safe place out of traffic, and make sure you don’t leave the scene! if you can’t move it, that’s fine. turn off the engine and get out of the vehicle if you can. then check to see if anyone is injured and call 911 if they need medical assistance. Even if no one is seriously injured, you should still call the police and report the accident.

Then, gather the correct information and details about the accident so that when it comes time to file a claim and work with the insurance companies, you will have all the writing and pictures you can use as evidence.

keep these tips in mind:

  • do not accept or blame the other driver. you’ll work it out later with your insurance company.
  • Take photos of the scene, including the other drivers involved, license plates, any damage done to their vehicle and yours, the direction each vehicle was traveling, and traffic signs. these are all important details you’ll want to have on hand when dealing with insurance and filing a claim.
  • this one is very important: exchanging information. you’ll want to share your name and insurance company with the other driver, as well as get the other driver’s insurance and contact information.

Capture as much detail as you can by taking notes on your phone. collect the following information:

  • year, make, model, color of other car
  • names and ages of driver and passenger
  • exact location of accident
  • the speed at which you were driving
  • date and time of the accident
  • weather conditions
  • time of arrival of the police, as well as your name and license plate number
  • road conditions
  • witnesses (get their names and contact information)

learn more about what to do after a car accident, so that in the event of the unexpected, you’ll know how to handle the situation with confidence.

do I need to call the police after a car accident?

absolutely. you’ll want to notify the police right away, not only in case someone is injured, but the police report will be one of the main factors insurance investigators will use when evaluating your claim.

who do I call after an accident?

Usually, in simple rear-end or clear-liability accidents where the at-fault driver accepts liability, you probably don’t need to call your insurance company unless you were at fault. in that case, the sooner you call, the sooner your insurance provider can help you get things back on track.

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Some states are considered “no-fault” states, meaning that if there is an accident, it will be your insurance that covers you up to a specified limit for personal injury, car damage, and related claims such as lost wages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Likewise, the other driver, even if you were at fault, will be responsible for your damages and injuries.

Insurance compensation for car accidents can vary depending on where you live. Do you live in a no-fault state? check your policy for details to better understand how you’re covered.

what if the other driver in the accident doesn’t have insurance?

Usually, if you’re in a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance pays for your damages and injuries. But what if they don’t have insurance? that complicates things a bit, but here’s what you need to know.

Almost every state legally requires you to have minimum amounts of specific car insurance coverages, so driving without car insurance for any period of time is considered illegal. but that doesn’t mean people don’t. That’s why uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is so important. If you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, your uninsured or underinsured insurance will kick in and help cover your medical expenses.

You have the option of filing charges against the driver and taking them to small claims court. however, it can cost you more time and money to take them to court, so while it may not be ideal for your insurance company to have to cover liability costs for an accident you did not cause (your collision coverage would cover the damage to the car), that’s what uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is for: it’s a safety net for unfortunate cases like these.

Also, consider the consequences if you don’t have auto insurance in a state that requires it:

  • If you are at fault, you will not only pay out of pocket for medical bills or damage to your vehicle, but you will also be responsible for paying for the other driver’s injuries and damages.
  • The other party could sue you for the damages and injuries you caused them.
  • You could be fined, face jail time, and possibly lose your license and registration.
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  • You may have trouble finding affordable auto insurance rates if you do eventually buy a policy.

what do I need to file a claim after an accident?

According to, you will need to submit the following information to your auto insurance company when you file a claim:

  • policy number, which can be found on your insurance card
  • date, time and location of the accident
  • detailed description of how the accident occurred
  • insurance and contact information for the other party involved
  • name of the police department involved and police report number

Here’s when you’ll use all the information you gathered right after the accident and why it’s so important to write down as much detail as you can.

Until fault is determined, your insurance company will cover the cost of repairs and injuries, as long as you have adequate coverage, such as collision or medical coverage. Be sure to keep the following in mind when making repairs:

  • You may need to take your car to one of your auto insurance company’s approved body shops for repairs, but you can get an estimate at any body shop. Check with your agent before you turn your car over to any shop to find out if your insurance company will reimburse you.
  • Your adjuster (the person in charge of investigating your claim) may ask you to compare different quotes at various shops of your choice.
  • If you choose your own repair shop, you may have to pay the difference between the shop’s quote and what your insurer decides is a fair price.

If your claim includes medical expenses for injuries you or your passengers sustained in the accident, you should keep the medical receipts and give copies to your claims adjuster for evidence and reimbursement.

How do I file an insurance claim after an accident?

Collisions can be stressful and it can be difficult to know what to do or how to file a claim after a car accident. usually the process is pretty clear:

To file a claim, simply call your insurance company. they will usually walk you through the process and ask for all of the information listed above. Once your claim is filed, a claims representative will contact you to review your claim and the process to follow. they will review your claim and work with you to accurately assess it. Finally, they will evaluate your claim and try to complete it as quickly as possible.

If you would like more information on how to file a claim after an accident with american family insurance, please go to our claims summary page.

what if I want to file a claim but I don’t have a police report?

You can still file a claim even if you don’t have a police report. it will just require a bit more work and may take longer to process.

Any of the following information will be helpful when filing a claim without a police report:

  • photographs of the accident scene and damage to the vehicle
  • statements from the parties involved
  • eyewitness statements
  • weather conditions and of the road at the scene of the accident

How long do I have to file a claim?

You’ll want the claim process to start as soon as possible, so filing a claim should be done right away. Typically, the state’s statute of limitations is only two to three years, but some insurance companies may only pay the costs of repairs for the year the accident occurred. putting it off is not in your best interest, as the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to locate others involved in the accident for interviews or other investigation related to the claim that will help your case.

our advice? File the claim right away or at least contact your insurance agent as soon as you can after the accident.

How does a car insurance claim work after an accident?

once your claim is filed, your company will assign a claims adjuster to investigate your case. the adjuster can do several things:

  • review the police report.
  • interview other involved parties and witnesses at the scene.
  • visit the accident site.
  • inspect your car for damage and take pictures of your car.
  • You may be asked to sign a medical release form so they can see your records.
  • Contact any medical provider to gather information regarding your injury expenses.
  • review medical records, bills, and proof of lost wages.
  • in some cases, they may also review your social media accounts to check any of the details. you provided.
  • Of course, you will be interviewed for your side of the story.
  • The adjuster will also determine who is at fault for the accident and work with the other party’s insurance company. part to see how much they will pay.

How do I know if I am covered for an accident?

Want to make sure you’re adequately covered if you have an accident? Connect with an American Family Insurance Agent to check your auto coverages – Understanding how your auto insurance covers you can give you peace of mind knowing you’re protected when you hit the road.

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