One of the first things you should do when you’re injured in a vehicle accident is to file a claim. You may file it with your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company. You may be thinking: how exactly do I file a claim? Over the years, the process of how to file an auto insurance claim has changed, and still varies depending upon your individual insurance company. At Alexander Body & Fender, we make it our mission to not only repair your vehicle to its best condition, but to also guide you through dealing with insurance.
What Is A Claim?
Before we get in too far, let’s define a claim. The word “claim” refers to an actual event and involves a loss. For instance, an auto policy claim or loss would be a stolen car or an accident. You file or submit a claim to your insurance company requesting coverage or compensation for a covered loss or policy event.
What to Do After an Accident
- Call 9-1-1 if anyone is injured.
- Call the police department to file an accident report.
- Call a tow truck or roadside assistance if you need it.
- Call your insurance company or go online to start a claim.
- Gather contact and insurance information from those involved.
- Collect witness names and numbers.
- Photograph damage.
- Don’t apologize or take fault for the accident.
- Discuss accident details with the police, insurance agent, and claims associate only.
- Don’t leave the scene until okayed by the police.
Be sure to always call the police and make a report after an accident. Do not let the other party talk you into exchanging information and letting them pay you out of pocket. You never know how these scenarios will result. When you do not make a police report, you will have to go through your own insurance, which means your rates could go up and you’ll have to pay your deductible.
Find out more about the Important Steps to Take After You’ve Been in a Car Accident.
How to Start a Claim
All insurance claims processes are different, but generally you will either call your insurance company’s 800 number or go online to start your claim.
You’ll likely be assigned a claims associate who will guide you through the process. This claims associate will:
- Gather facts about the accident,
- Explain coverages,
- Help schedule inspection of the vehicle,
- Arrange for a rental car, if needed.
Some Questions You May Want to Ask the Claims Associate
- Am I covered for these losses?
- What is my deductible?
- How long will it take to process my claim?
- Does my policy have a time limit on filing a claim?
- Is there a time limit during which claims must be resolved after they are filed?
- What are those time limits?
How Your Claim Is Processed
After it’s determined that your accident is covered, your claim will be assigned to a claims adjuster. Within a week or so, the adjuster will evaluate the damage and loss to your vehicle and determine how much you can claim under your policy. This figure will be the insurance company’s estimate of what they will pay to repair your car – the total initial claim payment. This is just a starting point.
If a third-party insurance adjuster (from the other driver’s insurance company) tells you the company has a repair shop that will fix your car for substantially less than an estimate that you got independently, be cautious. You should always collect your own estimate from independent repair shops. In Ohio, you can choose any shop you prefer. Do not be steered away from your choice and control of the repair of your vehicle.
Don’t Let Insurance Delay the Claim Process
If you’ve given your insurance company a reasonable opportunity to inspect the vehicle within a week of the accident, and they’ve still not returned an estimate of how much you can claim, do not wait. Involve an experienced body shop that is familiar with claims and your specific insurance policies and procedures.
How to Arrange for Vehicle Repairs Through Insurance After an Accident
It used to be so that after an accident, you would need to file a claim and run around to get three repair estimates (in an effort to save the insurance company money). Nowadays, some insurance companies don’t even require an estimate before choosing a repair shop; others accept photo estimates, and others still have their own “concierge shops” for estimates.
The thing to keep in mind here, is that you have the right to choose your own repair shop. You should not feel like you have to use one of the “preferred partners” that an insurance company recommends. (In fact, you likely shouldn’t most times: here’s why.)
Get a Quality Estimate, Not Just the Easiest One
All of this said, the process of filing a claim, obtaining payment from your insurance company, and finally choosing a shop for repairs can be quite time-consuming. We urge you to seek out quality referrals from local auto body shops and select where you want your car to be repaired. These are our top 4 recommendations:
- Do your homework on your coverage.
- Ask your claims associate questions.
- Keep the pressure on the insurance company for a timely appraisal (but do not wait longer than necessary to begin repairs).
- Research the shops where you plan to request repair estimates.
Get more helpful information on how to get the Best Car Insurance Policy for your needs.
We Can Help You Navigate the Claims Process – Alexander Body & Fender
If you’ve been in an accident, Alexander Body & Fender can get you towed, estimated and start building your claim with the insurance company. Then, we’ll negotiate the claim on your behalf. We deal with insurance companies on a daily basis, and take pride in doing so because it makes our customers’ experiences simpler.
Quality is a huge point of pride for Alexander Body & Fender. We stand behind our work and provide a lifetime warranty on all our workmanship. We use premium paint, ensure professional application, and offer a transferable warranty that NOBODY in our market has. Why? Because we care about our vehicles and have extreme pride in our workmanship.
Alexander Body & Fender is a local family-owned company. Our founding principle comes from Proverbs verse 22:1 – “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” Profits are never our business goal; we believe in building a strong reputation through optimal customer service.