You just got hit, and now you’re wondering what you have to do and what exactly is involved in the car insurance claim process. There are over 400 different types of insurance companies and whoever represents you is going to help you with your claim process. Having car insurance is meant to protect you and pay for the damages that are a result of an accident and which we call the claim process. The first step in filing your claim with the insurance company is taking down the information about the accident including the other person involved in the collision.
It is crucial to obtain a police report and if possible nearby witnesses. Always make sure that after the accident you take pictures with your mobile device, and you get the other parties information including name, address, insurance policy information, the year, make, model and VIN of the vehicle. If you are not injured, you can obtain the information yourself but if you are unable to gather this information and struck somebody to help you. You also have to call the police to file a police report. Having a police report will be crucial in helping you with your claim process. Depending on what state you live there are different laws for every state, and you have to make sure that you understand what your legal responsibilities are in your situation and what you have to do. You also have to contact your insurance company and notify them of the accident and give them the information you’ve gathered including the police report. If you’re able to take notes about the accident such as what lane you were in, the type of weather, the time of day and document in exact detail of how everything happened this could help you further down the road. Write it down on paper record video of yourself just explaining what happened. This can be helpful so you won’t forget all this information that will serve as evidence and help you with your claim process. Call your insurance company the moment you are in an accident but make sure you are out of harm’s way when you are on your phone talking to the agent or calling the police at the scene of the crash. Once you contact your insurance company or agent, they will instruct you what steps you need to take. If your car is totaled or no longer driveable at the scene of the accident let your insurance agent know and they could provide towing service for you. You could also just look up a local towing company that can tow your car away from the accident scene to your home, your preferred auto body shop or a storage yard.
Once the police report is entered into the database all the information that is gathered from the accident will be used by your insurance company to determine who is at fault. These matters can take some time since there will be a lot of going back and forth between the insurance companies. The police report, telephone conversations, written, and any other documented evidence will be used to determine who is at fault. It is the norm to go days without hearing from your insurance, but don’t sit around and wait for them to contact you. More than likely you will have an insurance representative assigned to your claim and that agent will be designated to work with you throughout the whole claims process. The claims adjuster that is how they mean your claim has several responsibilities and helping you get your claim settled as well as getting your car repaired. Most insurance companies will have the adjuster meet with you at your home to discuss the matters of your accident in detail. Any information you have including pictures should be given to the adjuster who will collect this information and use it to determine who is at fault. They might also go to the location where your damaged vehicle is at to inspect the extent of the damage it has. If your car is not at your house and instead is at a storage yard or a repair shop, they will visit with that facility and inspect your vehicle to write up an estimate for the repairs that need to be made to fix your car back to its original condition. The average cost for a collision repair varies depending on the severity of the collision. Insurance companies have their network of body shops that opt-in to be on a preferred list of shops that do repair work for those specific insurance companies. These are referred to as body shops in the DRP which means Direct Repair Program. Insurance companies give jobs directly to these shops that have exclusive deals with one another. Always look at your options when you are getting your vehicle repaired.
If you can, get three to four different estimates from local body shops to find out what it would cost to fix your car and compare the different price points. Knowing this range of total cost to repair your vehicle will give you an idea of how much money is involved in fixing your car. Going with the cheapest estimate might not be the best way to go but going with the highest estimate doesn’t necessarily mean you will get a perfect repair. Insurance companies will try to save money anyway which possible and it is your responsibility to contact them and make sure that you are getting the most value from the insurance policy that is paying for the repairs of your vehicle. Depending on what kind of policy you have, some insurances will pay for your car rental if it is included in your policy plan. Some insurance policies have a max payout for car rentals and only allow a certain amount of time for you to use a rental car while your car is in the body shop getting repaired. Once your vehicle is in the body shop getting fixed the insurance company may delay in getting back to you but offer you the option to pay for the car rental out of pocket and tell you they will reimburse you once the claims process is further along. Avoid taking this option. Always try to have the insurance company pay for your car rental if you have car rental insurance on your policy. One of the reasons you want to do this is because some insurance companies only pay a maximum amount of 30 days and if the body shop takes 45 days to repair your car, you will be responsible for paying the difference for your car rental. Always make sure that you are in constant contact with your insurance company or agent to make sure your questions are answered and not delayed. Sometimes you might have to call the other parties insurance company to file a claim with them if they are at fault. Please make sure to get assistance and advice from a collision consultant or company before calling them. If you have severe injuries that involve medical bills hospital visits and days of not being able to work in some cases you might need to seek legal counsel and talk to personal injury lawyers that work on your case to get you reimbursed for any medical expenses as a result of your accident.
Your insurance company might refer you to one of their network body shops and speak very highly of them, but you are not required by law to accept the repair shops they recommend. Make sure your car gets inspected first by the insurance adjuster before doing any repairs. If your vehicle is severely damaged and it is at a body shop an initial teardown may be required to inspect additional components and parts of the car further to provide an estimate. This teardown process might include removing bumpers, trunks, doors, hoods, fenders, rims, sunroofs or other parts that help the adjuster look at the mechanical parts that might have been damaged as a result of the accident. It is a simple disassembly of components that cover the exterior of the car to inspect additional damage further. You can choose your repair shop of choice to fix your car, and you are never obligated to take your car to the body shop your insurance company recommends. When your car is getting repaired there are two different types of replacement parts for your vehicle. The first is an OEM which stands for original equipment manufacturer and the second is aftermarket parts. Your insurance company on some parts may not be obligated to pay for original equipment manufacturer parts which are the most expensive to replace. It is better to ask your insurance company what your options are if you’d like to have OEM parts installed on your vehicle instead of aftermarket parts. In most cases, you will be required to pay for some of the total cost when you use OEM parts.
If you are disappointed with the way your insurance company or agent is handling your insurance claim, you have several courses of action that you can take to protect yourself. The first one is to contact your insurance agent whom you bought your insurance policy from and make sure they hold true to their word and help the customer who is paying a monthly premium. The insurance plan you have is meant precisely for these kinds of situations. The second step is to contact your insurance company and escalate your claim up the ladder and talk to a supervisor that’s overseeing your request. You could also request an independent appraisal if you feel that the decisions your insurance company has taken and repair in your car is less than average or you disagree with your insurance company totaling out your vehicle. When this happens, the insurance company totals out your car, and they are saying that to repair your car would cost more than what your car was worth in essence. They will advise you that it is not worth fixing. If they write you a check for what they think your car was worth in the condition it was right before the accident make sure and consult with a diminished appraisal company to get a second opinion. Having an independent appraisal company come out and inspect your vehicle to provide an estimate is the best thing you can do to get the most in return for your loss after your accident. So do your homework.
Another option you have is to contact your state regulators if you aren’t happy with your insurance claim or disagree with your insurance company. You can call and contact your attorney general’s office or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for your state. Last but not least you also have the opportunity to seek the legal advice of a lawyer to protect your best interest if you feel the insurance company is not representing you in good faith under your insurance policy and in most cases, these matters are resolved sooner than later.
A few relevant facts to consider when dealing with insurance companies are listed below to serve your best interest.
Make sure that you fully understand the type of coverage you have on your policy before you give any recorded written statements to your insurance company.
How many rock chips do you think your car has? Truth is, Im sure you at least have one or if you have a brand new car you will probably have one in the next 3 months. So what can you do to prevent the rock chips from happening in the first place? We will give you a little more information about what you can do to protect your vehicle as well as what you can do if you already have some rock chips on your hood, bumper or anywhere else on your vehicle.
This is how a mobile refinishing technician repairs a rock chip on a corvette door outdoors.
Did you ever remember that day in high school when somebody mentioned there would be self driving cars in 50 years. Well, today we are living in the future. Our kids are going to be hearing pretty soon that in 50 years there will be flying cars.
Over time, the plastic that makes up your headlights will degrade and cloud over. If yours aren’t shining quite like they used to, here’s how to clean your headlights. Fact is, those dingy dirty headlights can make your car less visible on the road late at night. Your light may not be bright enough to shine on the reflective shirt of that late night jogger that is listening to music through headphones unaware of your approaching vehicle and about to cross the median right in front of your vehicle.