If you’re in an accident and you find yourself in the scary situation of having to file a car insurance claim, you might feel a little overwhelmed. You’re probably still a bit shaken from the accident itself, and the last thing you feel like doing is dealing with car insurance. But we’ve got a few tips to help you through the process of filing an insurance claim.
When the accident happens…
Part of handling an auto insurance claim starts when the accident first happens. There are a few things you have to do when you go to file the claim, and it’s important that you gather all the information necessary to make the claims process as smooth as possible.
1. Stop the car.
You’ve got to stop and see what happened and what damage occurred. Don’t leave the scene. Try to get your car to a safe place and block as little traffic as possible.
2. Call the police.
Try to stay calm and phone the police. Let them know that you’re reporting an accident and answer the dispatcher’s questions. They’ll get the information they need to send the appropriate emergency personnel to the scene.
3. Give the police the facts.
You’ve got to give the police the facts, but don’t admit fault. Just tell the truth of what happened in an objective way. Cooperate with the officers who respond.
4. Ask how you can get a copy of the police report.
You might want to ask how you can get a copy of the police report. You may need it for your insurance claim – it could make the entire process easier.
5. Get the names and addresses of people and passengers involved.
You’ll need to collect some information from the people involved in the accident. You’ll probably want to record their names and addresses. Also, get the year, make, and model of all vehicles involved, plus the license plate numbers. And don’t forget to get the name of the other driver’s insurance company.
Pro tip: Keep a small notebook and pen in your glove box or center console. It’s really handy to have some paper and a writing implement on-hand when things like this happen.
6. Get contact information of all witnesses.
If there happen to be any witnesses who saw what happened and stop at the scene, try to get their names and contact information.
7. Note the name and badge numbers of responding emergency personnel.
Try to get the names of the police officers and emergency personnel who respond to the scene.
After the accident…
Once you’ve dealt with the immediate situation of the car accident, you’ll be dealing with the claims process itself. Here a few steps for that phase of the process.
1. Talk to your insurance company.
You’ve got to contact your car insurance company and let them know what happened. Write down the name and title of the person you spoke with, and jot down some notes about what they tell you. Ask them what your next steps will be and what needs to happen. They’ll be able to walk you through the process. Maybe ask for a phone number to call if you have any further questions.
2. Write down your account of what happened.
As time passes, our memories get foggy. It’s hard to remember exactly what happened, especially since it’s not like you were expecting to get in an accident. As soon as you can, take a moment to write down what you remember about the accident. It’ll be fresher in your mind. Details are harder to recall the more time that passes.
3. Record all correspondence about your car insurance claim.
It’s also really important that you take detailed notes about any correspondence involving your claim. Write down the name and title of the person you’re speaking with and write notes about what you talked about. Don’t forget to record the time and date of the conversation, too.
4. Record all expenses related to your accident.
Keep track of all the expenses that happened because of the accident. This can help you when you’re filing your car insurance claim because you may be able to be reimbursed for some of them. If you want, keep a file folder with all the relevant receipts or paperwork. It’s just easier to keep all of this in one place.
5. Take photos.
Take lots of photos of the damage to your vehicle. Photos can help you when you’re filing your claim.
6. Find out what parts will be used for the repairs.
Will your car be repaired using original equipment manufacturer’s parts (OEM) or aftermarket parts? Make sure to find this out.
Getting into a car accident and handling a car insurance claim can be stressful. It’s important to stay in touch with your insurance company and to take detailed notes on what happens.
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