The coverage you have purchased will determine whether your insurance policy will cover a claim. There may be circumstances when you will need to contact an attorney for legal advise regarding your claim; such as, when you disagree about who is at fault for a loss.
The following is general auto claims information and is not a substitute for legal advice.
What To Do When You Have a Loss
- Call the police – if you are in an auto accident or your vehicle is vandalized or stolen. Be aware that police might not respond to an accident on private property, such as a parking lot, unless there are medical injuries.
- Take photos – of the scene, all sides of all involved vehicles, any other damaged property, and any other pertinent information related to the accident.
- Gather information – if it is safe for you to do so. Try to obtain as much information as you can, such as:
- the responding police officer’s name and the department he/she works for
- the incident or case number
- the other motorists’ insurance information
- the other motorists’ full name, current physical address, and telephone number
- full name, address, and telephone number of all witnesses
- the name of the towing company towing your vehicle and the location your vehicle is being towed
Filing A Claim
If your vehicle is damaged or you are injured in a loss, you have the option to file a claim with your insurance company. In order for your insurance company to pay you for damages to your vehicle, you will need to purchase Comprehensive coverage and/or Collision coverage on your auto insurance policy prior to the loss.
In order for your insurance company to pay you for injuries you or your passengers sustain while operating your vehicle, you will need to purchase Medical Payments coverage on your auto insurance policy prior to the loss.
Additionally, if you believe another person is at fault for your loss, you may file a claim with their insurance company if you are able to safely obtain their insurance information.
What to Expect After Filing a Claim
Shortly after you file an insurance claim, the insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to your claim. You should receive a call from the claims adjuster assigned to your claim within a reasonably prompt timeframe.
Your claims adjuster will want to obtain your version of the facts of the claim, along with any other information they may need to investigate your claim. If another party is involved in your claim, the claims adjuster may attempt to contact them as well.
Typically, the claims adjuster will request to record these conversations; however, this is not required. The following are some examples of questions that you may want to ask the claims adjuster:
- Can the insurance company make any recommendations of local auto repair shops?
- Some insurance companies work with specific auto repair shops, often referred to as “preferred shops,” to handle repairs related to their claims. The benefits of using a “preferred shop” could mean an expedited repair of your vehicle damages, or the insurance company may guarantee the repairs related to your claim.
- Does the insurance company guarantee the work of the recommended auto repair shops?
- The insurance company is not obligated to guarantee the work of their recommended auto repair shop. However, if the company does guarantee the work of their recommended auto repair shop, get it in writing.
- What is the name, phone number, and email address of the person to contact if you have questions about your claim?
- It is best to have all available contact information for your specific claims adjuster, including their direct telephone number, email address, mailing address, and even their fax number. You might also want to request contact information for an alternative person in case your adjuster is unavailable. Having multiple methods of contact may help advance the resolution of your claim.
- How/when/where will the inspection of your vehicle damages occur?
- Insurance companies may use various methods to inspect your vehicle damages, which may include having an adjuster personally inspect your vehicle or requesting photographs of the damages from either you or your auto repair shop, etc.
- How long does the claims adjuster anticipate it will take to determine fault for the accident? (For auto accident claims involving other motorists)
- The claims adjuster may not be able to give you a specific answer right away. Since liability decisions are typically dependent on multiple factors, the insurance company may need additional time to gather and review information related to your claim in order to make their determination.