Car Insurance Claims

How Do Auto Insurance Claims Work?

Most drivers have to file an auto insurance claim at one time or another. The millions of claims processed each year in this country range from the mundane to the catastrophic. You may have experienced anything from a fender-bender to a serious accident. Filing auto insurance claims involves reporting the incident to your insurance agent or insurance carrier so that you can receive compensation for your loss.

If you are wondering whether your collision claims process will be more difficult to bear than the accident itself, the good news is that filing a claim is usually fairly simple. By following a systematic approach and carefully recording what has happened, you can gather all of the information you need.  The following guidelines will help you ensure the process goes smoothly.

Car insurance claims infographic.

What Does an Insurance Claims Adjuster Do?

A claims adjuster is an employee of the insurance company who investigates accidents and determines what occurred. If the other party is filing a suit against you, the plaintiff’s attorney will also gather the facts in the attempt to make a case.

If an accident does not involve the legal system, the claims adjuster will simply inspect your vehicle, determine the extent of the damage, and report the cost of repairs to your insurance agent. If the car can be repaired, your agent will review your insurance plan to determine what fixes are covered by your policy. If the costs exceed the value of the vehicle, your agent will deem the car a total loss.

Why Good Auto Insurance Matters

There are many different scenarios for how and why auto-related incidents happen. Working with an insurance agent who fully understands the risks you face and helps you to get the right coverage at the right price can bring you peace of mind. Insurance agents can often help to simplify the claims process.

Here are some examples where a helpful agent and the right insurance can make a difference.

  1. Collision coverage claims: When it’s not clear who is responsible for an accident, your agent will file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. It may take time for both providers to settle the claim, but your agent will be able to walk you through each step. You can speed up the recovery process by carrying collision coverage, which provides funds for repairs regardless of who caused the accident.
  2. Uninsured and underinsured coverage claims: If the other driver is at fault but is not insured, your agent will explain what you need to do. Be prepared in advance with uninsured/underinsured coverage. If an accident is caused by a driver without insurance, this coverage will pay for all or most of the costs.
  3. Comprehensive coverage claims: If you hit a deer on the highway, a branch falls on your car during a thunderstorm, or your vehicle is vandalized, you’ll need comprehensive coverage. Also called “other than collision,” comprehensive pays for damage to your property that is not caused by another driver. If the value of your vehicle is quite low, you may not want to carry this coverage. Be sure to talk with your agent.
  4. GAP insurance claims: For new cars or leased vehicles, it is important to have protection with GAP insurance. The moment you buy or lease a vehicle, the value of the car quickly depreciates. If your new car is totaled or stolen, your insurance coverage will only pay for the value of the car at the time of the incident. The remaining difference – what you owe on your loan or lease agreement – must be paid. If you have GAP insurance, your policy will cover the difference.
  5. Personal injury insurance claims: Personal injury protection (PIP) provides coverage for your own injuries and lost wages following an accident, up to a limit. The policy, also known as MedPay in some states, typically does not take into consideration whether you are at fault for an accident. Several states require PIP, so it is important to check with your local Trusted Choice member agent to ask about your state’s requirements. When you file a personal injury claim, keep in mind the limitations in your policy. Like all other coverage types, PIP has several exclusions and restrictions. It is important to discuss with your agent how the policy works and what it covers.
  6. Fraudulent claims: A fraudulent claim may involve exaggerated damages, falsified losses or staging an accident or theft. When you are in an accident with another driver, it is important to be thorough in documenting any damage. This will deter the other driver from filing a fraudulent claim against you. If you believe a claim against you is fraudulent, find out how to report fraud with your agent. You can also contact your state insurance board to report fraud.
  7. Claim denial: Was your claim denied? Claim denial can occur for a number of reasons. The most common reason is insufficient coverage. Before you buy a policy, it is vital to review the extent of coverage with your agent. If your claim is denied, discuss what the next steps are with your agent. There is often a denied claims appeal process.

If you are unhappy with your insurance provider, it may be time to switch to a local independent agent in the Trusted Choice network. Not only will you find dedicated service from an agent who knows you by name, but your agent will review your policies carefully to make sure your coverage truly matches your needs.

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