How to File a Claim
“Oh nooo!” All you can do is scream as another car comes skidding into yours. Your car’s sheetmetal folds like melted candy, and your windshield explodes like a charge dropped into a frozen lake. Your pride and joy ends up crumpled beyond recognition.
Good thing you’re covered by insurance. For most people, though, the only thing worse than being involved in an accident is having to file a claim.
Oh, sure. It's not so difficult.
- Contact your agent. The agency will send you a claims form.
- Fill out a claims form describing the details of your accident and its outcome and return it.
- Your agency will send out an adjuster to verify the damage and make the claim.
- A check is sent to you.
If you feel your agency is putting enough of a hitch in its git-along, call your state's Insurance Department.
Take care when making a claim. If you claim an excessive amount or make too many claims in a year most insurance companies will cancel your policy. Don't be afraid to claim what is due you, just don't make claims for anything you don't really need to have covered.
Here are some tips to make your claim process as painless as possible:
- Know your policy beforehand. What does it cover? When does it cover it?
- Don't admit fault. Let your agent and any other agents involved ascertain guilt - don't say you'll pay for the accident simply because you feel bad about it.
- Call your agent (or claims hotline) immediately. Call as soon as you can to avoid missing any deadlines or delaying payment.
- Document everything. Keep copies of every piece of paper you need or may need, from the police report (if there is a police presence at the accident) to pictures of your car pre- and post-accident, to receipts for car improvements; anything you may need to prove your claim, including cost or repair and replacement.
- Don't hire - or threaten to hire - an attorney. Make your claim. If you have to, call up your state's Insurance Department. Only as a last resort get lawyers involved. Once you have a lawyer, the adjuster may talk only to that lawyer.
Photo Credit: Automakers