Liability car insurance is required in most states and for good reason. If you are found at fault for a car accident, you are responsible for the costs to repair or replace any damaged property as well as cover the medical expenses of the other driver and passengers. Without car insurance, you could be liable for tens to even hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal injury and property damage.
If the other party is at fault, filing a car insurance claim is still important. Your vehicle may also be damaged, and you may need medical attention. You will also need to consider factors like needing a rental car while your car is being repaired or replaced or considering how much your insurance policy covers in damages.
Knowing what to do when you need to file an auto insurance claim can help you avoid some of the headaches and red tape involved in the process. It can also help you get a better value for your insurance. Keep in mind that every insurance company handles its claim process slightly differently, but many of the steps are similar.
What Is A Car Insurance Claim?
A car insurance claim is a request for financial compensation for damages and injuries sustained in an auto accident. Insurance claims cover the expenses after a car accident. If you are liable, claims cover for representation or intervention on your behalf.
After you file the appropriate paperwork, the insurance company usually sends an insurance adjuster to investigate your claim. If the claim is validated and approved, you will receive the financial compensation needed to cover your losses.
To understand how to file a car insurance claim, you must first know the types of coverage offered by most insurance companies.
Types of Car Insurance
There are several types of auto insurance coverage that address different incidents. You can only file a claim if you have coverage for that specific incident in question. Common coverages include:
- Liability Insurance
This type of coverage covers the damage to an individual from accidents where you are found at fault. Liability insurance covers bodily injury (BI), physical harm to the other driver or passengers, and property damage (PD), such as a vehicle or structural damage to a building. 49 out of 50 states require some form of liability insurance. New Hampshire is the only state that does not require auto liability insurance.
- Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay)
Medical costs can be expensive, especially after a serious accident. Medical payments coverage can help pay those medical costs related to the car accident, regardless of who is at fault.
- Comprehensive Insurance
Comprehensive insurance covers damage from events outside the driver’s control, such as impact with an animal or a tree branch hitting your windshield. It can add an extra level of coverage in the instance of an accident involving another vehicle.
- Collision Insurance
Collision insurance covers the damage from accidents while driving regardless of who was at fault. Examples of covered incidents may be crashing into another car or hitting a tree. It may help repair or replace the vehicle covered by the policy.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist insurance is similar to liability insurance but covers accidents involving an at-fault, uninsured driver. Typically, when another driver is at fault for your accident, you file a claim with their insurance provider. However, if that driver is uninsured, uninsured motorist coverage would cover any injuries and property damage you sustained due to the accident.
This type of insurance may also cover hit-and-run accidents. It is most often paired with underinsured motorist coverage.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Like uninsured motorist insurance, underinsured motorist coverage is similar to liability insurance, except it covers drivers who are at fault and underinsured. In other words, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy does not entirely cover your expenses. Your underinsured motorist insurance would pay for the remaining damage in this case.
- Rental Reimbursement Coverage
Rental reimbursement coverage helps pay for a rental car while your car is being repaired after a car accident. Check with your insurance policy to confirm your coverage limits. Typically, rental reimbursement coverage pays up to a certain dollar amount per day for a set amount of time.
- Full Coverage
While there is no standard definition for full coverage car insurance, it typically refers to a combination of the above insurance policies. The exact coverage is customized to the insured’s needs and may include liability insurance, collision insurance, and comprehensive car insurance.
Some people use comprehensive car insurance and full coverage car insurance interchangeably, but these are not the same. Though a “full coverage” policy does not exist, it is more than comprehensive car insurance.
Steps To File An Auto Insurance Claim
- Get to safety and contact the police.
If damages or injuries result from a car accident, the first thing to do is take care of yourself and everyone around you. Make sure the scene is safe before doing anything else.
Once you are safe, you should call the police. In Nevada, the law requires you to notify the police about any car accident that causes physical injuries, death, or property damage. Not only is it essential to do so in the case of a serious accident, but a police officer can help you begin the claims process by generating a police report that can be used as part of your claim.
In a worst-case scenario, a police officer can be there to ensure your safety should the other party become difficult. An officer can also make sure ambulances or emergency services are there to handle any injuries or dangerous conditions, such as fuel leaks or a burning car, at the scene.
- File a police report.
A police report will paint a picture of what happened in the accident and include information to make the insurance claim process much more manageable. If you did not call the police following your accident, you might still be able to go to a local police station to file a report.
- Gather relevant information and documentation.
Filing your claim will be easier if you take the time to gather information at the scene of the accident. First, collect the relevant information from the other driver– name, phone number, license plate, vehicle model and make, insurance company, and policy number. Be sure to gather the contact information, including names, of any witnesses to the accident so your claims adjuster can speak to them if necessary.
You should also take note of any traffic cameras or store security cameras in the area. Even in neighborhoods, many people now have doorbells that take videos, which can help determine the cause and who is at fault for your accident.
Record all accident details, no matter how minor, including photos and videos of damage and the accident scene. Many insurance companies now have apps that allow you to take and upload pictures and videos to begin the claims process. Be sure to capture all angles so that the insurance company can see the full extent of the damage done to your property or car.
Besides evidence of damage sustained during the car accident, take photos and record any injuries from the collision, no matter how small. This includes any injuries your passengers may have suffered.
Include everything you can remember about what happened immediately before, during, and after the accident. While doing this, do not apologize or accept fault for the accident, and especially do not agree to settle the matter privately. It may affect your ability to file a claim and get approved.
- Call your insurance company.
Once you are safely at home or in a safe place, check your insurance coverage. If you do not have a copy of it in your files, you may be able to access it via your insurance company’s mobile app or website. You will need your policy number to verify your coverage and deductibles. With your policy in front of you, you can start filing your claim if you haven’t already.
Calling your insurance company will officially initiate the claims process. When you reach your insurer, explain what happened in as much detail as possible. This is where the relevant information and documentation come in handy.
In the case of an auto accident, your insurance company will try to determine who is at fault. Even if you believe you are not at fault, you should still call your insurer to begin a claim. Ask your agent how to proceed, and any necessary steps you need to take to ensure your claim is processed appropriately. Your agent may ask for a “proof of loss” form, as well as copies of any documentation related to the accident, such as the police report, medical bills, and auto repair bills.
If you choose to file a third-party claim, that means you choose to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance. The other party’s insurance will require the same information as your own insurance company to determine who is at fault. With this option, you may want to contact an experienced car accident attorney before proceeding.
- Don’t wait to file your claim.
You should file your claim as soon as possible. Every state has different laws regarding how long you have to file your claim, so you should familiarize yourself with these laws. Nevada’s statute of limitations for a car accident claim is two years, whether filed through your insurance or a personal injury attorney.
- Work with your claims adjuster.
A claims adjuster is the person your insurance company assigned to handle your accident claim. The adjuster handles discussions with repair shops, other insurance companies, witnesses, and any other involved parties. They will also investigate your accident, review the estimates for your vehicle repairs, and get your claim settled.
The claims professional will also review any potential personal injury claims, handle the needed payments, and approve the costs for repairs. For this reason, be sure to provide the adjuster with all relevant information to make sure your claim moves quickly and avoids delays. The more information you provide, the easier it is for the adjuster to help you.
If there is any part of the process you do not understand, your claims professional should be able to answer your questions. Do not be afraid to ask for an explanation of the process.
Remember that while the claims adjuster may want you satisfied with how they handle your claim, their first responsibility is to the insurance company. They will want to keep expenses as low as possible. You may consider hiring a car accident lawyer to make sure you get full compensation from your insurance or the at-fault party’s insurance company.
- Get your car repaired.
Depending on your insurance company, the claims adjuster may provide you with several suggestions for auto repair shops. If not, you can usually choose which repair shop you would like to use. When you take your car to the repair shop, be sure to get an estimate and give the information to your claims adjuster. An estimate can also help determine the amount of financial compensation you receive after your claim is processed.
Suppose you’re in an auto accident, your vehicle is totaled, and you have comprehensive or collision coverage. In that case, you will receive the value of your car pre-wreck in cash from the insurance company. The cost is usually enough to cover the cost of buying a new vehicle of the same value.
After Filing A Claim
The process of filing a car insurance claim is similar across insurance companies, but who pays for damages, coverage costs, and whether you are covered at all vary. This is why it is important to contact your car insurance provider as soon as possible after the accident. They can help you better understand the claims process and your coverage policy.
There is a possibility of your claim being denied. Sometimes, insurance companies can reject your claim based on the nature of the accident or your coverage policy. For example, if there is evidence you violated state law during the accident, your insurance provider can deny you coverage.
If you are not satisfied with your settlement offer, you can negotiate with your insurance provider. You will need all the necessary evidence to support your claim, such as medical records, bills, and police reports. The better your evidence, the more likely you are to receive higher compensation initially or after negotiation.
Insurance companies are interested in their bottom line, which is especially true of the other party’s insurer. The goal of their claims adjuster is to spend as little money as possible. Insurance companies can also make it difficult to negotiate and will use any missteps in the process of filing your claim as evidence against increasing the payout.
Consider Hiring A Car Accident Attorney
Car accidents are traumatic experiences that can have life-altering effects on their victims. The process of filing a claim can be overwhelming and seem nearly impossible after an accident. There are many steps to worry about, including gathering evidence, and you only have a limited time to file your claim. At Dimopoulos Injury Law, we believe the last thing on your mind should be dealing with your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance provider.
You need an experienced, exceptional, and trustworthy team to fight for the compensation you deserve. Our team will gather all the evidence and documentation you need to start the claims process and review this evidence to determine who is at fault. We will also investigate your case thoroughly to find all the damages you’ve endured due to your auto accident.
Dimopoulos Injury Law Firm will take care of the insurance companies so you can focus on your recovery. Our attorneys will communicate with the appropriate parties, including any witnesses and claims adjusters, taking the stress of the claims process off your shoulders. With our team at your side, insurance companies will take your case seriously.