The best quotes from the most trusted insurance companies

Get free insurance quotes

Home / Auto Insurance / Auto Insurance Claims

How to File an Auto Insurance Claim

A car accident is always a stressful and scary experience, even for a minor collision or accident that causes damage to your vehicle. 

The aftermath can be overwhelming, too. From getting help for injuries to assessing damage and contacting authorities, there’s a lot that needs to be done. Fortunately, filing an auto insurance claim after the accident doesn’t have to add to the stress. Below, we cover each step of navigating your auto insurance claim and what to expect throughout the process. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Contact the Police to File an Accident Report

You may not think you need to contact the police after a car accident, especially if:

However, each state has its own rules about filing a car accident report, depending on the severity of injury or the amount of property damage. And regardless of your state’s rules, it’s still in your best interest to file a report as soon as possible after an accident—even if there was only minor damage. There are a few important reasons why:

  1. It’s normal to feel shaken up after a car accident. As a result, you may not be in the best position to accurately assess what happened. If you decide not to file a report and the damages turn out to be worse than expected, it may be too late to avoid being sued for damage you may or may not have caused. 
  2. By filing a report, you’ll have a professional on the scene to make sure you’re safe and can get the help you need. An officer will provide a fair and unbiased assessment of who was injured, the extent of the damage, and who seems to be at fault. 
  3. Not all injuries are immediately visible after an accident—especially head injuries such as concussions or trauma to the brain. This makes it critical to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident, even if you think you’re fine.
  4. The damage after an accident isn’t just limited to physical injuries. Mental and emotional well-being can be seriously affected in the aftermath of a car accident. For example, if you were to suffer from PTSD as a result of your accident, it could impact your ability to work and live a normal life.
  5. If there are any issues with the other driver about who was at fault, you’ll need the police to help—otherwise it will be your word against theirs. By filing an accident report, you’ll have the defense you need, should any future litigation matters emerge.
auto insurance claims

Therefore, the best advice is to file a police report regardless of the damages. In fact, your insurer may require that you do so within a certain amount of time, which can range from twenty-four hours to 30 days. You can check with your policy details to make sure you’re filing the report in time. 

You should also document everything you possibly can at the scene of the collision. As soon as it’s safe to do so, you should take photos of each vehicle involved from all angles, as well as photos of the surrounding area. If you find yourself being sued or questioned by a police officer, these photos will help to defend your case. 

Step 2: Call Your Insurance Company

After you’ve called the police to file an accident report, your next step will be to get in touch with your insurance company as soon as soon as possible. This step is critical, even if you believe you weren’t at fault and you plan on filing a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance.

They will walk you through the next steps and tell you what documentation related to the accident you’ll need to send them. Some of the information they’ll ask for includes:

While speaking with your provider, make sure to take notes and write down the claim number they give you, as well as the name and phone number of the agent who helps you. 

Step 3: Follow Up with an Insurance Adjuster

Once you report your claim to your car insurance company, they will typically assign a claims adjuster to work with you. Their job is to review any potential personal injury claims and inspect the damage to your car in order to get your claim settled and your vehicle repaired. 

The adjuster will gather information about the accident and review any potential personal injury claims. Next, they’ll investigate the damage to your car and have you take it to a certified repair shop to perform an inspection. The repair shop will send an estimate to the insurance company, who will use it to determine how much they’ll pay toward your vehicle’s repairs.

If your car isn’t driveable, your insurance adjuster will advise you on the next steps to take. Depending on your policy coverage, your insurer can arrange to have your car towed and provide you with a rental until the repairs are complete.

Whether you meet with the adjuster in person or over the phone, remember that your conversation will be recorded and used when determining who was at fault. Therefore, if you’re filing a personal injury claim with the other driver’s insurance provider, it may be in your best interest to contact a lawyer before meeting with the adjuster. 

Important Things to Know When You File Your Claim

An important part of the claims process is understanding your auto insurance policy and what it covers. Here are some important things to know or ask about when you file your claim:

Affordable Auto Insurance: Peace of Mind When You Need it Most

In the face of an auto insurance claim, comprehensive coverage is your best defense. The good news? We’re here to take the stress out of your search with  all-inclusive policies at rates you can afford. Our online auto insurance quotes are quick, easy, and most importantly—free. Get your quote today and rest easy knowing that in the event of a collision, you and your family will be protected.

Discover More About Auto Insurance

Frequently Asked Questions

When Should I File an Auto Insurance Claim?

After a car accident, it is best to file a car insurance claim with your auto insurance provider as soon as possible. You’ll want to make good documentation of damages with pictures and get a police report if possible to make sure your auto insurance claim goes over smoothly and you can get payment for your auto damage repairs swiftly. Try to get this done as soon as you can as some insurance providers have time limits on making claims.

How Do I File an Auto Insurance Claim?

We review how to file an auto insurance claim in full in this article. However, the first thing to start an auto insurance claim is to call your insurance provider no matter who’s at fault and let them know the details of the car accident. Keep all documentation of the accident and any receipts for car repair you may make. Your car insurance agent will be able to guide you through the process to get your claim approved.

When Should I Not Make a Claim on My Auto Insurance?

In some situations, if the damage to your vehicle and the costs for repair is less than your insurance deductible (the price you pay to make a claim), it may make more sense to pay out of pocket than to make an auto insurance claim – which usually also raises your overall rates in the long-run.

Will Making a Claim on My Car Insurance Increase My Rates?

There are many factors that your car insurance company will take into account as to whether or not your auto rates will go up after making a claim on an accident. They will look at the severity of the accident, who was at fault, overall driving record, and a few other things. Some insurance providers have accident forgiveness and your rates may not increase at all – it will all depend on the specifics laid out in your auto policy.

How Much Does Car Insurance Go Up If I Make a Claim?

Depending on your auto insurance provider’s policies and the factors of the claim you are making, your auto insurance rates may not increase when making a claim. However, on average making a claim on your policy for an “at-fault” accident can raise your insurance rates anywhere from 15% – 55%.