Every car owner wants to find ways to save on car insurance. However, many a car owner has hastily made the decision to purchase less coverage to save monthly rather than signing up for a full coverage plan from a less expensive seller. Rather than switching to car insurance from Insurance Doctor or another competitively-priced option, tons of drivers opt for less inclusive plans that leave them out in the cold. Choosing the right insurance for you has a lot to do with understanding not just what each type of coverage protects you from, but how the actual insurance claims process works. Whether you’re someone who’s been on the road for years or a driver who’s just starting out with a brand new vehicle, arming yourself with knowledge about the claims process can be a helpful way to figure out what kind of coverage plan is right for you. To learn more, read on.
Contacting Your Insurance Company
After an accident or discovery of damage to your vehicle, the first thing you’ll do is contact your insurance company. You can make a phone call or use an online portal if your insurance company allows it. If you go online, you’ll be able to upload photos of the damage as well as information about the other party involved in the accident. Before calling your insurance company, it’s important to have all your information organized and in one place. Have your photos out to describe the damage, have the information you gathered from the other party in the accident, and have your insurance card with your ID and policy number ready. The less time you have to spend searching for this information, the better. You’ll be able to concisely describe what happened with as many relevant details as possible, including the time and location of the accident, information about the other driver or vehicle, and any relevant information about the circumstances (i.e., one driver was parked in a ‘no stop’ zone, you were both at a red light, etc.) From there, your insurance company will assign you to an adjuster.
Filing a Police Report
If your accident resulted in physical injury to your or the other parties involved, your insurance company will encourage you to file a police report if you haven’t already. Ideally, you’ll have filed your report on the scene if anyone required an ambulance or if any illegal activity was involved. In general, it’s good to have a law enforcement officer take down your statement at the scene. This will also offer you a chance to gather any witnesses who may have seen the accident happen in case you need to bring your case to court. If you didn’t file a police report on the scene, you can still do it after the fact by calling a nearby station or walking in and filing a report.
Speaking to an Adjuster
After you’ve given your statement both to the police and the insurance company, you’ll be given an adjuster who will look at the details of your case. Your adjuster’s job is to figure out the value of the accident, who’s at fault, and to sort through any additional details about your claim to figure out how to modify your coverage or payment plan after the accident. Because of this, they’ll need to get as clear a sense of events as possible. After you’re assigned your adjuster, you’ll probably be called to go through the details of the accident again. If you need your car serviced as a result of the accident, your adjuster will set up an inspection of the damage.
After your adjuster has gone through everything, they will figure out any changes to your policy based on the extent of the accident, who was at fault, and whether or not your plan covers the specific type of damage your vehicle has experienced. In some cases, you will be asked to make a payment to your insurance company. In other cases, if the damage is small or you are found not to be at fault, you may not have to pay anything. Your insurance premium may go up in the case of a smaller accident, or you may be eligible for accident forgiveness if it’s your first accident under this policy.
The Final Result
If you’ve been charged, you’ll have an option to make your payment in installments or pay upfront. If you’re able to pay the amount in full, doing so will save you money in the long run. However, if this isn’t possible, you’ll be able to work out a payment plan with your insurance company to pay off the damage over time.