Nobody wants to be involved in an accident, but by their very nature, they can happen at the most unexpected time and place. Hopefully, all parties involved have planned for this contingency and have active car insurance policies.
Most policyholders consider their auto insurance policy as some sort of a touch-and-go contract: signed once, and hopefully, never to be seen or needed again. So if and when the time comes they are involved in an accident, they are at a loss how to go about the process.
That is quite forgivable, considering the driver having walked through a potentially life-threatening accident. So here are some reminders to help make the insurance claim process as painless as possible.
- Supplying all relevant information
The first step is to inform the insurer or agent that you have been involved in an accident. Remember that most agents may not be able to handle the claims themselves; they may just connect you with the claims department of the company.
At this point, you must provide basic information to the insurer regarding the accident: the identity of all the parties involved in the accident, their contact information, a short description of the incident, what damages resulted from the accident, what injuries were caused, and similar information.
Someone from the claims department of the insurance company will take charge at this point. He or she will guide you through the next steps of the process, and set up inspections when necessary. You will then discuss any type of coverage that applies, depending on your policy.
- Determining liability
The next step is usually the assessment of the adjuster, who determines which party is liable for the incident. Depending on the extent of the accident, there may be several adjusters involved, who will determine which or what caused the specific damages and/or injuries.
The adjusters will get information from the involved parties, with the police, and with other witnesses. They will also conduct any other investigations and physical examination of the evidence in order to determine liability.
- Inspection and settlement of claims
The vehicles will then be inspected by the adjuster, either at your home, at the auto shop, or at the accident site. The adjuster will assess the evidence and then discuss the price of the damage with you.
Deductibles will be subtracted from the repair cost and you will get a check for any difference. If you are not at fault for the damages and/or injuries, you may be able to file a claim against the insurance company of the other party; the adjuster will discuss if this is an available option.
In most cases, it could take weeks before the claim is settled and the funds released. Since each incident is caused by specific factors, and each of these varies from accident to accident, the claims process may be quite different from the one outlined above.
However, every claim follows this basic pattern. Fully knowing the extent of your policy before accidents happen is a good way to make the auto insurance claim process easier and less painful.