Even the safest drivers can get into accidents. At the scene of an accident, you may need to take some important steps *, such as making sure everyone is okay, calling the police, and exchanging information with any other drivers involved.
When it comes time to file an auto insurance claim, it helps to know what information to provide and to understand how your insurance coverage works.
Each insurance company handles your claims differently, but many of the steps are similar. Here’s an idea of what to expect during the insurance claim process.
1. ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR COVERAGE
When you call your insurer to file a claim, the Insurance Information Institute (III) * says they will ask you to provide information and documentation related to the accident. You should also make sure you understand a few key points regarding your policy and how it works. These include:
Your deductible . When you bought your auto insurance, you selected deductibles for certain coverages, such as collision or against all risks. Make sure you know how much your deductible is, that is, the amount you will have to pay out of pocket to carry out repairs on your vehicle before the insurance coverage takes effect.
Let’s say, for example, you have a collision coverage deductible of $ 500 and the covered damage to your vehicle is $ 1,500. Your deductible will be subtracted from your covered loss, and your insurance company will pay $ 1,000 for the repairs.
Rental reimbursement coverage . Do you need transportation while your vehicle is in the workshop? If your auto insurance policy includes rental reimbursement coverage *, it can help pay for the cost of renting a car while yours is being repaired. Consumer Reports * suggests that you ask your insurer how to arrange car rental and payment. It’s also a good idea to ask about coverage limits (for example, $ 30 per day for up to six days).
Time limits . It’s a good idea to ask your insurer about time limits for making claims and submitting bills, according to Consumer Reports.
2. GET AN ESTIMATE AND WORK WITH THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER
The insurance adjuster, or claims adjuster, investigates the accident, determines who is at fault, and recommends how much the insurance company will pay for the damages, according to Edmunds *.
An adjuster will check your car to determine what was damaged during the accident and how much it will cost to repair it (both parts and labor). According to Consumer Reports, some insurance companies require you to go to a designated inspection site in advance to get an estimate on repair costs. The shop inspects the damage and submits a report to the insurance company, which will help pay for your vehicle’s repairs.
If you disagree with the adjuster’s repair value, Consumer Reports suggests requesting a full report detailing how repair costs were assessed. Ask the adjuster to explain how he determined the insurance payment.
3. TAKE YOUR CAR TO REPAIR
You can take your car to any repair shop of your choice, says Consumer Reports. You also have the right to ask the auto body shop to use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts to repair your car instead of less expensive “used” parts. Keep in mind, however, that OEM parts can be new or recycled, depending on how your policy is written.
Depending on the situation, your insurance company could pay the repair shop directly or pay you and let you handle the bill.
After an accident, you probably want your auto insurance claim to go as smoothly as possible, so you can get your vehicle fixed and get back on the road. If you have any questions about the claims process, call your local agent *.