According to the American Community Survey by the US Census Bureau, 86% of workers in the US drove to work in 2013. If an accident were to happen on the road, would you know just what to do especially with the claims process?
It can be very stressful to be involved in an accident, even if it's a small one. You must be prepared to act quickly and decisively to ensure the best results of a car insurance claim process. I've put together the basic steps to take and a list of the information that you must provide. Knowing what to do can help ease the stress of the moment and make you take wiser decisions.
Here is a general idea of what you have to do, where you need to file the auto insurance claim and what you will have to provide.
After an accident, it is important to act immediately.
First of all, check if anyone was injured, if there are injuries, call 911 straightaway. The next step is to share information with the other driver. Most states require drivers to carry a proof-of-insurance card in their vehicles, you will find your policy number and insurer's phone number there. Exchange information with the other driver including names, phone numbers, addresses, vehicle model, make and license plate. Include information about the damage incurred to each vehicle and the passengers within.
After exchanging all the important information, check if you need to file a police report. If you are unsure, call your insurer and ask. Each insurance company has slightly different rules, and each state has its own laws concerning the claims process - it's helpful if you know them in advance. As soon as you have all the info, call your insurance company right away to tell them about the incident. Regardless of who is at fault, it is important to notify the insurer as soon as possible. Ask your insurance company how to proceed, and what forms and documents you need to provide.
Nowadays the majority of insurance companies allow you file a claim and monitor its process online. You will be asked for some kind of identification (user name, password, policy number, or something else) when logging in to your insurance company's claim page. Provide the requested information and let the insurer's website guide you through the rest of the process.
The types of information required varies from insurer, but here is the standard info that you should have prepared before contacting your auto insurance company:
- The policy number on your insurance card.
- Date, location and description of the accident.
- The other driver's information: name, address, insurance policy number, license plate, vehicle model, etc.
- Police report number and name of police department (if you file a police report).
Each insurance company has a different claims process, so ask your insurer to inform you about what you should expect.
You should also ask specific questions like if you have a time limit for filing the claim and submitting bills. Time limits are one of the most important factors on your insurance policy that you should be aware of. Make sure to also ask if there is a time limit for resolving claims disputes and submitting additional information. Ask your insurance agent if you need to get repair estimates for your damaged vehicle and if the policy will pay for a rental car while yours is getting repaired. Another must-ask is: when will the insurance company contact you regarding the claim?
Don't be afraid to ask any questions you may have - after all, this is what you are paying your insurer for!