When you woke up this morning, it seemed like a pretty normal day in California. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping outside your window, and all seemed right with the world. You headed out to your car, which was parked on the street in front of your house, to drive to work. That’s when you noticed that not only was the side of your car dented in pretty noticeably, but the mirror was broken off and lying on the asphalt. Someone had hit your car overnight and driven off without letting you know what happened.
You know you need to file a claim with your car insurance company, but you’ve never filed a claim before. What are the steps you should take? What do you need to know before, during and after filing? The claims process is not usually complicated, but there are some things to know that make it easier and more effective.
When to File a Claim
You should file a car insurance claim under the following circumstances:
–Your car is damaged in an auto accident.
–Your car is vandalized or stolen.
–Your car is damaged by fire, severe weather, or another non-accident-related event.
File your claim as soon as possible after the damage or theft occurs.
Before You File a Claim
In most cases, you should call the police before or at the same time that you file a claim. When an accident occurs, a police report will help insurance personnel to gather information that will help them determine the facts of the incident and which party if any was at fault. In the case of theft or vandalism, the police also need to investigate and try to find out who committed the criminal act that caused the damage.
Most people don’t think about filing a claim until it happens, so they may need to gather information needed for the claim. The telephone number to call should be listed on the front of your insurance card, along with your policy number and effective dates. You will also need contact information and vehicle information for all known drivers and passengers involved in the incident, as well as contact information for any witnesses who saw the incident take place.
How a Claim is Processed
Once the claim is filed, it will be assigned to a claims professional at your car insurance company. The claims professional will contact you to discuss what happened as well as your coverage levels. Someone from the insurance company will inspect your car, any injuries you may have, and will help you get access to a rental car if it is covered by your policy. An initial payment may be made at this time.
The case is then considered and a determination of fault and amount of damage (including bodily injury) is made. Further payment may be made if needed. If you feel your case was improperly handled and don’t agree with the determination made, there is typically an appeals process you can follow for reconsideration. The case will be closed at the end of this process.
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The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.