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How to Successfully File a Car Insurance Claim

No one likes thinking about being in a car accident but with more than 140,000 million Americans on the road daily, many of them drowsy, texting or otherwise distracted, the odds are you’ll experience at least one accident during your driving career. 

We’re not suggesting every time you get behind the wheel you dwell on the idea of an auto mishap but knowing ahead of time what you need to do if you’re caught in one can make all the difference when it comes time to file your car insurance claim.

Steps for Filing a Car Insurance Claim

Whether it’s a fender-bender or major mashup, the idea of dealing with insurance adjusters and claim forms can be nearly as stressful as an accident itself. Take these steps before and after a collision and you’ll be able to handle the experience like a pro.

First, be prepared by keeping the following in your car’s glove compartment and/or on your phone.

  • Registration and auto insurance policy number and agent contact info
  • Roadside assistance information
  • Medical information for you and your family members. An ICE program on your phone in case police and paramedics need it is recommended

If you’re in a collision, pull over to a safe area and check for injuries and car damage. Use your phone’s camera to take photos of all cars and collect the information you need for calling your agent and making a claim:

  • Name and contact information of all parties
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • License plate numbers and registration for other cars
  • Make and model of all involved vehicles
  • Location where accident occurred as well as time of day, weather, and road conditions

Basic Steps of Filing a Car Insurance Claim

Once you exchange information, file a police report, and leave the accident site, it’s time to contact your insurance agent. Don’t put this off: your policy may require prompt reporting and your memory of what occurred will be fresher the sooner you place a call. Be prepared to tell your agent:

  • Which vehicle covered under the policy was involved in the accident
  • Who was driving and the location and time of the accident
  • A general description of what happened and the severity of damage to all vehicles
  • The name and insurance company information for the other driver
  • Any witness names

Your agent will also want a police report number. If a report was not done at the scene, you can still get one at the local police station. 

You’ll then have an adjuster assigned to your claim and she or he will likely contact you for more information. Stick to facts and provide any photos you took. You may be required to take your car to a certified repair shop for inspection. The adjuster will then consider and evaluate your claim and decide what compensation, if any, you should receive.

If the claims process is not a smooth one and you’re unhappy with how the carrier is handling it, you may decide to look for a new car insurance company. 

Does Making a Car Insurance Claim Raise Your Rates?

Whether filing a car insurance claim makes your premium go up depends on things such as previous claims, the state you live in, and the insurance company’s rules and regulations. Some states allow insurers to add a surcharge to rates after an accident and they typically last 3 to 5 years before decreasing.

You may not realize it but you’re entitled to switch your insurance provider at any time, including while you have an open car insurance claim. Because car insurance companies often raise premiums for drivers who’ve recently been in a collision, making the switch after an accident can end up saving you money. Not to mention, there’s little downside to shopping around for the lowest price.

A Simple Way to Get Multiple Quotes

Even if your rates don’t go up after filing a car insurance claim, when it’s time to renew your policy it’s a great idea to compare quotes to make sure you’re getting the best deal. SelectQuote makes it easy to compare multiple highly rated insurers and get the insurance coverage you need for the lowest price. 

In just minutes, we match you to multiple reliable carriers who provide accurate, personalized coverage options, rates and discounts all in one easy-to-navigate place. To learn more, contact a licensed SelectQuote agent today. 

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