Navigating the auto claim process
Nobody ever wants to get into an accident. But should the unfortunate occur, your insurance company should be there to help you get back on the road. Claim practices can vary by company, so make sure to ask about the particular company's claim practices when purchasing insurance.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about the auto claim process.
- What should I do if I'm in an auto accident?
If you have a mobile device, there are a number of applications, such as Travelers Auto Accident Help for the iPhone, designed to guide you through the steps to take after an auto accident and to help you create an accident report to submit to your insurance company.
Here are the immediate steps to take after an auto accident.
- First, remain calm. Move out of the way of traffic, and turn on your hazard lights.
- Call the police, even in a minor accident.
- If someone is injured, request medical assistance. If fire is involved, request fire department aid.
- Do not discuss who is at fault.
- Exchange necessary information with the other driver(s). Don't forget to write down the contact information and license plate numbers of all involved vehicles.
- Call your insurance company as soon as possible following a loss. Most companies have a toll-free reporting number available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The sooner you call, the sooner they can help.
- What information do I need to report a claim?
The information needed will depend on the type of claim you're reporting. Typically, however, insurance companies ask for:
- Your contact information
- The name and contact information of any other involved parties
- Your policy number (if available)
- The type of loss you're reporting (auto, home, etc.)
- The date the incident occurred
- A description of the loss
- A description of any injuries
- I don't have all the information needed to report my claim. What should I do?
You should report your claim to your insurance company as soon as possible, even if you don't have all the necessary information. The faster you report your claim, the sooner your insurance company can start assisting you. Your company's claim representative should contact you throughout the claim process, so they can assist you with any additional information needed.
- What happens after I report my claim?
Claim practices may vary by company, but typically after reporting your loss a claim representative should call you to discuss what will happen next, what your policy covers and answer your questions. For auto and property claims, the representative will usually set up a time to inspect the damage in person. When shopping for insurance, ask about the company's claim handling procedures so that you know what to expect in the event of a loss.
- How long will it take to settle my claim?
The faster you report your loss, the faster your insurance company can begin handling your claim. Every loss is different, so the length of time needed to settle a claim varies. The type of claim, severity of the damage and other circumstances will determine the time needed. Your insurance company's claim representative is your point of contact for any questions you might have about your specific claim or the claim process in general.
- When can I expect payment?
First, your insurance company should review the facts of the loss to determine what happened and whether the loss is covered by your insurance policy. For damaged property or vehicles, this usually requires an in-person inspection. Once the claim representative determines whether the policy covers the loss and the extent of the damages, they can set up payment.
- After I report my claim, will my insurance go up?
It depends. A lot of factors go into determining your premium, including the coverages and limits you purchase, how much you drive, driving record and claim and loss history. When looking at claims and losses, companies usually look at the type of loss, the amount paid on the claim, whether anyone was injured and whether there are other losses on the policy.
- Can my insurance company assist me with auto repair options?
You always have the right to have your vehicle repaired at the shop of your choice. For your convenience, many companies offer repair options to assist you during this time. Ask your insurance company for more details.
- I wasn't at fault for the accident. Can I get my deductible back?
If it's determined that you're not at fault for an accident, your insurance company may notify the negligent driver and/or their insurance company to recover the amount your insurance company paid for the accident, including your deductible. This is called subrogation. Recovery of your deductible may take time and is not guaranteed. The best way to understand the subrogation process is to contact your insurance agent or insurance company.
The information on this site is general in nature, intended to provide you with some basic information about auto insurance. Any description of coverage, discounts and practices is necessarily simplified. Actual coverage is subject to the terms, limits and conditions of the particular policy. Nothing on this site alters the terms or conditions of any policy you may purchase. Coverages, limits, deductibles and discounts vary by state and by company, and are subject to availability and individual eligibility.