A Complete Guide on How to Submit an Insurance Claim

submit an insurance claim

The good news is that less than 10% of drivers need to file an auto insurance claim each year. The bad news is that, of the claims that are filed, the average loss is over $6,300. If you carry the required amount of insurance, you will likely only be required to pay your deductible amount, and your insurance company will pay the rest. If you have recently been in an accident, you will need to file an insurance claim. Submitting an insurance claim can seem overwhelming, though, so if you have never done this before, read on to learn when you should submit an insurance claim, how to submit it, and what to expect once you do.

When Should You Submit an Insurance Claim? 

If your car is damaged or you or another person was injured in the accident, you should always file an insurance claim. If the damage is minor (think less than the amount of your deductible), you may choose to not file a claim and pay out of pocket. Or, the other driver may offer to pay for the damage out of pocket to avoid filing an insurance claim. 

If there is an injury, you will want to file a claim as many health insurance policies will not cover auto injuries, or they will require that you coordinate between the two insurance policies. If someone else is at fault, your health insurance will want to make sure that their insurance company pays for any medical care that you need.

You should also file a claim if your car is stolen, damaged in a weather-related incident (such as hail, damage due to flying debris, etc.), or damaged while driving (for example, if something on the road cracks your windshield or something flies off of another car, causing damage to your vehicle). 

Even if an accident or damage is the fault of another driver, you should still file a claim with your insurance. If you were not at fault, you will not have to pay your deductible. Your insurance company will determine fault and will also handle contacting the other driver’s insurance company for you. 

Step 1: Contact Your Insurance Company 

The first step is to provide information to your insurance company to begin a claim. Many companies make this easy for customers by allowing them to start the claim process through a smartphone app. You can do this immediately, even from the scene of the accident if it is safe to do so. 

Otherwise, plan to call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. To facilitate your claim, have the following information available when you contact the insurance company: 

  1. Names and contact information of all parties involved
  2. Insurance and vehicle information of other vehicles involved
  3. Location of the accident, time, weather conditions, and other relevant information about the accident scene
  4. Photos or videos of the accident or damage, if available
  5. Names and badge numbers of the officers who responded to the accident, as well as the agency the officers are part of
  6. A copy of the accident report (this may not be available yet, as it often takes a day or two for the formal accident report to be completed and filed by responding officers)

Step 2: Determine Your Coverage

Your insurance policy will include information about what is and is not covered. A representative from the company can also help you understand what they will cover. You should also verify your deductible, which may differ depending on what type of claim you are making. 

If your car cannot be driven, you should also ask about rental coverage, if you have it. Many insurers include coverage for a rental car for a certain period of time and for a certain amount per day. 

Step 3: Follow the Insurance Company’s Directions

Depending on the severity and type of damage, your insurance company may send an adjuster to see your vehicle. If it is at your home, work with them to schedule a time to assess the damage. They will need to do this to determine the cost of the damage. 

You may also need to get estimates for repairs from auto body shops and submit these to your insurance company. Again, they will instruct you on how to proceed. Be sure to follow their instructions and move quickly, so you can get back on the road quickly and close your claim. 

Step 4: Get Your Vehicle Repaired

If your vehicle is able to be repaired, you can have those repairs done. You have the right to choose which auto body shop or mechanic you would like to use. You can also request that original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts are used rather than less expensive after-market parts. 

If your vehicle is totaled, your insurance company will pay you the actual value of your car (minus your deductible). However, this is only if you have comprehensive or collision coverage. This money can then be used to purchase a new vehicle. 

If you owe more than your car is worth, gap insurance will cover that difference (but this is separate from your auto insurance policy). 

Other Considerations

If your insurance company denies your claim or does not adequately compensate you for your injuries and damaged vehicle, you may want to consider hiring an attorney. They can communicate with the insurance company for you, handle negotiations, and ensure that you are fairly compensated for any injuries or damages sustained as a result of the accident. 

Submit Your Claim Confidently

Using these tips, you can hopefully submit an insurance claim with confidence, knowing that you followed proper procedures. If all goes well, you’ll get a fair amount for your injuries and damaged vehicle. 

However, if this is not the case, contacting an experienced personal injury attorney may be in your best interest. They can negotiate with your insurance company as well as the insurance company of others who may be responsible for the accident. 

Here at Sweet Law, our attorneys specialize in car accident claims. Contact us today for a free case consultation.

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