What happens after you file a car insurance claim?
December 29, 2022
No one expects to be in a car accident but, when it happens, it's all you can think about. You may have acted quickly and did all the right things, all while dealing with the stress that comes with accidents big and small. But now it's over, and you just just want to get back to normal. Why is this process taking so long?
When you file a car insurance claim, the process may leave you feeling a little in the dark. To shed a little light on the situation, we’ll share what goes into the insurance claims process and provide helpful suggestions on what you can do to help it go as smoothly as possible.
A quick review: the car insurance claims process
When it comes to filing a claim and knowingwhat to do after a car accident, you may notice some similar steps. The things you do after a car accident can help you and your insurer when the time comes to file a claim. Let’s break it down step by step.
Step 1: Safety first
The first priority after an accident is to make sure you, your passengers and others are okay. Before you take any action, make sure you are in a safe, well-lit place and pulled over to the side of the road with your hazard lights on.
Step 2: Contact authorities and file a police report
At the time of an accident, it’s important to call emergency services and when able, file a police report. The name of the police department and police report number will be key pieces of information you’ll want to have on hand when you file an insurance claim.
Step 3: Document, document, document
After you've contacted the police, make sure you exchange insurance information (policy number and insurance company info) with everyone involved. It's also a good idea to take photos, from multiple angles if you can. Another helpful suggestion is to write down everything you can remember about what, where and how the accident happened as well as who was involved.
Step 4: Review your insurance coverage
Before you file your insurance claim, it's always a good idea to review your policy first. Generally you can find coverage specifics of your policy on your insurance ID card or auto declarations page.
Step 5: Contact your insurance company and file a claim
Once you file a car insurance claim, you'll work with your insurance team by answering questions and providing as much information as possible -- this is where the police report, photos and notes come in handy. Continue working with your insurer during the investigation by communicating early and often.
Step 6: Wait
This part of the claims process can often be the worst part—the waiting. After filing your claim, your insurance team will investigate and assess the damage to your vehicle. You will often be required to select the auto shop to do the repairs, so ask family and friends for recommendations. Once you decide on a shop, your insurance company will complete a repair estimate—which can take several days.
Step 7: The payout
Once your insurance company has done their due diligence, they will pay the amount of the repair estimate, minus your deductible, to either you, your lienholder or the shop directly with your authorization.
Step 8: Pay your deductible
As the last step of the claims process, you’ll be responsible for paying your deductible once repairs are completed—regardless of who’s at fault. Generally, you’ll pay the deductible to the auto repair shop and your insurance will cover the rest.
But what if you aren’t at fault for the accident? Will you get your deductible back if you’re not at fault? We won’t sugarcoat it, this part of the process can take some time. Depending on the nature of the accident, your insurer may take months or even years to confirm that you are not at-fault. So, be patient and, if you’re not at fault, the insurance company will do everything they can to get your deductible paid back to you. Most insurance companies will pay you back first, before they collect back what they paid from the insurance of the at-fault driver.
Why it might take some time to see a payment
Every claim is different, what may be clear for one driver’s situation may be a little more complex for another—it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Because of that, the time it takes to see a payment can fluctuate.
If you have been or are in the waiting stage of the claims process, here are some common situations that play into the time it takes to process a reimbursement:
You may not have the right coverage for the claim
Injuries often involve additional documentation
The police report isn’t ready
If attorneys are involved, more time is usually needed
Communicating with your insurance team is a good place to start if you’re left with more questions than answers regarding your claim. We know that after an accident you want things to go back to normal, so does your insurance team, so ask questions and let your insurer be there for you.
What you can control during the claims process
There are actions you can take to move the process along faster. One of the most important things is to be prepared. Renewal time is a great time to review your policy and make sure your coverages meet your current lifestyle needs.
The hardest part for you and your insurer is when you have an accident and file a claim only to find out that you either don’t have coverage at all or you don’t have enough. Keeping good records can also help move your claim along. Here are some other ways to help keep the claims process moving as smoothly as possible.
Have your insurance policy number ready
Have helpful information readily available
Address of the incident
Names of others involved
Double check that your account is up to date with phone number, email address and mailing address
Know where your car title is located
Provide the insurance company with a copy of your police report
If applicable, set up a direct deposit option so you can access that money more quickly when the claim is paid out.
You can also reach out to your insurance company to ask what else may be helpful for them to effectively process and investigate the claim.
HiRoad’s take on claims
Filing a claim can be stressful—there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. HiRoad understands the pain points of the claims process, which is why we’ve created helpful ways to make filing a claim and receiving payment easier for you.
First, as a HiRoad customer you can use the app to file a claim right on the spot. Second, once your claim has been processed, say goodbye to the days of waiting for snail mail, you can quickly access your payment electronically.
Along with helpful tools, you'll have access to Team HiRoad. We're here to help you by explaining the step-by-step process of your claims experience. It's one of the many reasons our customers have come to love HiRoad.
Want to learn more? See what HiRoad customers are saying about us.
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