When you get into a vehicular collision or your car is damaged in some other way while operating it, you will need to contact your insurer and file an auto insurance claim. Filing a claim will allow you to get your automobile repaired or replaced. Depending on your insurance company, you can even get a loaner rental vehicle to use at no charge.
Determine if you need to File a Car Insurance Claim
Just because you scratched your mirror going through the McDonald’s drive through window does not mean you need to file an insurance claim. You need to think about the repercussions of filing a claim, and one of those is your rates could possibly go up if you file frequent claims. Many car insurance companies might not raise your rates after the first claim, but if you get into multiple incidents like hitting a pole or scratching your door in a parking lot, your rates are going to shoot way up.
One of the deterrents carriers use to prevent customers from filing frequent claims is the deductible. This is simply the amount you agree to pay before the insurance company kicks in and pays the remaining costs of the incident up and to the policy limits. Deductible amounts are chosen by the customer and usually, range from $250 all the way to $1,000. The higher the deductible is, the lower the premiums will be in general. One of the reasons for this discounted pricing is insurers know that a customer with a high deductible is not going to file frivolous claims and also drive more carefully.
Many small incidents that damage your vehicle can be repaired for a few hundred dollars, so it is often not worth filing a claim. In some situations, you may even bump another vehicle, and there is no visible damage to your car or the other parties vehicle. You may mutually decide that no accident report is needed and then not file for a claim. In any event, in this scenario, it is still good to get the other party involved in the incident name, phone number and insurance info to protect yourself. Another helpful tip is to take several photos shortly after the incident happened and write down in detail how it occurred and who was responsible.
What to do After a Serious Car Accident
Unfortunately, car accidents happen no matter how carefully we drive. If you do get into a crash, immediately pull over to safety if you can, to avoid being hit from behind. Next, call the proper authorities so an investigation can begin and report written. The police report will be very important as it will determine who was at fault in the incident. If there are injuries, no matter how minor, request an ambulance. Always be on the safe side and go to the hospital for a thorough check-up if you have injuries. You need to then gather some key info with the other party involved in the accident. This includes:
* The person’s full name
* Phone and home address
* License Number
* Insurance Carrier and Policy Number
Find any Witnesses
If there are witnesses that stopped after the accident, get their contact info and statement about what they witnessed. This will help assist the police in preparing the accident report. If there is no damage and the police refuse to prepare a report, you may need corroborating statements from witnesses if you plan on filing a claim.
Contact the Auto Insurer
You should contact your insurer right away after an incident. These days, most people carry cell phones with them, so contact your insurance company and start the claim process at the scene of the crash. An insurance claim rep will ask you several important questions about what occurred. Try and remember exactly what happened and always tell the truth when a claim is being reported. You will then be given a claim number. Write this number down as you will be using it for all further contact about the claim going forward. After your claim has been filed, the insurer will send out an adjuster to examine your car and take photos of the damage and the scene of the accident.
Get your Automobile Fixed at an authorized Repair Shop
Many car insurance companies work with preferred auto insurance repair facilities and will recommend these to you. It is best to take your car to a certified auto body shop recommended by your insurer, but it is usually not mandatory. Drive your car over to the shop or get it towed over as soon as possible so you can get back on the road sooner.
Once the adjuster has collected all the necessary information about the incident and reviewed the police report, the claim will then be settled. After this, the adjuster can pay you for damages to your car, medical expenses and any other incidental costs involved. If the accident was not ruled you fault, your premiums should not go up.