Car Insurance Claim Procedures

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    Reporting the Claim

    • When an auto accident or incident occurs, the first step is to report it to the insurance company. For example, if you are involved in a fender bender, you will typically exchange insurance information with the other driver, call the police to the scene to get an official police report and gather any witness information. If you are not involved in an accident, you may be calling the insurance company to report a broken windshield or vandalism to your vehicle. When speaking to the insurance representative, you'll need to answer many questions about the incident, such as where it occurred, what time of day it happened, information about the other driver and if there were any reported injuries.

    Investigating the Claim

    • After the initial report, both insurance companies (yours and the other driver's) will typically investigate the claim. At this phase in the claims process, your insurance company will also determine what, if any, type of coverage you have. An investigator, such as an adjuster or appraiser, usually conducts this procedure. The adjuster or appraiser aims to accurately evaluate the damage to the car and determine who was at fault for the accident. For example, if you were at fault, your insurance company may have to pay for both vehicles' repairs.

    Getting a Damage Estimate

    • If your vehicle was damaged, you will need to take it to approved car repair shops to receive repair estimates. You will then submit the estimates to your insurance company. Once the insurer approves the repair cost, you are usually free to begin the repair process.

    Resolution of the Claim

    • The resolution of the car insurance claim may occur in several ways. If the accident was a simple, no-fault incident, you will receive payment for vehicle damages and the claim will close out. If the claim is more complicated--for example, one or both drivers were injured and plan to sue--the claim may remain open for several months to years. If this happens, your insurance company may refer you to an attorney to go to mediation or court to determine liability and recover damages.

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