No one wants to get into a car accident or experience any type of auto theft, but when either occurs, you need to know what steps to take in order to get the money to recoup expenses. You need to know what your insurance will actually cover. If your deductable exceeds the repairs or the replacement value of a stolen item, for example, you may not want to file an insurance claim. Some things to know about your policy are the amount of liability, comprehensive, and collision insurance you that you have and whether or not your state offers no-fault insurance.
When you get into an accident or discover vandalism or theft, you need to notify the police. You should not leave the scene until you talk to the police, and find out how you can get a copy of their report. This report will help the claims process, especially if you are not at fault. If you are involved in an accident, you need to exchange information with the other parties who were driving. Get the names, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, addresses, insurance information, and telephone numbers of everyone involved.
One thing to consider is that claiming accidents can raise your insurance premium, especially if this is not your first claim for the year. If the damages are less than $1,000 after the deductable, most people recommend not filing an insurance claim at all if you are at fault. Speaking of fault, do not admit guilt at the scene, or offer payment. It is better for your future claim to wait for the results of the police report, and present the information at hand to the insurance agency.
Once you gather all of the required information, you should immediately call your insurance company, as your insurance agent will be able to tell you how to proceed. For most claims, the company will require that you obtain at least three written estimates. Some companies have one location to take your vehicle to for them to assess the damage. You may be required to complete additional paperwork, so it is important to write down everything that happened to make it easier to accurately remember when it is time to give details.
Once you file your claim, your insurer should contact you within a few days to let you know what further steps you must take. If your insurance company is not taking action, or is failing to respond in a timely manner, you can contact the insurance department for your state. The state can research the matter and provide assistance to get a response. If you still do not have success, you have the option of getting a lawyer. The problem with using a lawyer is that it takes you out of the loop. The insurance company will only be able to contact the lawyer, and not to you, once you hire one to represent you.
The entire process of filing a claim is not difficult. The most time consuming part is usually in getting the estimate of repairs. The purpose of having vehicle insurance is to cover your expenses in the event of theft or accidents. If you follow these steps, getting reimbursed for damages should be a short process.