Car insurance claims can be confusing. Here are some common questions and answers about filing claims with your car insurance company.
How do I file a claim?
Many car insurance companies offer multiple avenues to file a claim. You may be able to file:
- In person.
- By phone.
- Via a mobile app provided by the company.
Essentially, you’ll need to provide some basic information (see next FAQ) and provide accident details.
What do I do immediately after an accident?
Immediately after an accident:
- Check to see if any parties need urgent first aid attention.
- Do not move the vehicles, unless they are endangering oncoming traffic.
- Contact the authorities for medical and police services.
Once help is on the way:
- Gather the VIN and license plate numbers of all vehicles involved.
- Exchange the following information with the other driver(s):
- Addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information.
- Do not apologize or admit fault. Avoid discussing the accident until the authorities arrive.
- Take photos of damages.
Once you have the necessary information, give it to your car insurance provider.
What information do I need to have to file a claim?
Each insurance provider has a different set of information required when filing a car insurance claim. You will need, at a minimum, the following:
- Policy number (listed on your insurance card).
- Date of the accident.
- Location of the accident.
- Description of how the accident occurred.
- Name, address, license plate, and insurance information for the other party involved.
- Name of the police department involved (if applicable).
- Police report number (if applicable).
Will my claim be covered?
Consult with your auto insurance policy to see if you have the right coverages to pay for the type of claim you are filing. If you do, it should be covered. But remember that your deductible and your specific coverage limits will apply.
Speak with your auto insurance agent with any questions.
Are my rates going to increase if I file a claim?
Each auto insurance policy is different, but it is possible for your car insurance rates to go up if you file a claim.
While some companies have accident forgiveness programs that ensure your premium stays the same after your first accident, in many cases having a claim will raise your risk profile and, in turn, your rates.
What do I do if I was the victim of a hit and run?
Gather as much information as you can to help police and your car insurance company identify the other vehicle. Try to find and get contact information for any witnesses.
If you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and/or collision coverage, your provider may cover the damage in a hit and run.
What do I do if the other driver doesn’t have car insurance?
While drivers are required by law to have auto insurance, many choose not to purchase coverage.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on your own policy helps you if you are injured in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Collision coverage may also pay for vehicle damages if you don’t have UM/UIM coverage.
Can my insurance company cancel my policy if I file a claim?
Your car insurance provider retains the right to cancel your policy at any time, but this is usually only done when policyholders prove they are a high risk by filing multiple claims, especially for risky driving behaviors such as DUI.
Your car insurance company will notify you if it plans to cancel your policy.
What is an insurance deductible?
A deductible is the amount you are required to pay out of pocket before your insurance will pay for damage to your vehicle or injuries sustained in an accident.
So, if you are in an accident and your deductible is $500, you must pay the first $500 and your insurance will pay the rest (up to the limits of your policy).
Do I have to pay my deductible if I’m not at fault?
When you file a claim with your car insurance company, you may find yourself paying your deductible after an accident even if you don’t feel you are at fault. This commonly happens when fault is not determined before you bring your car in for repairs as a result of an accident.
If your insurance company finds that you were NOT at fault, it will likely work to recover your deductible from the other party’s insurance provider through the process of “subrogation.” In some cases, your insurance company may reimburse you for the deductible on its own.
Check with your auto insurance agent for more information.
My car was stolen. Do I have to file a police report?
Yes, filing a police report gives you the best possible chance of recovering your stolen vehicle.
Learn more about filing a theft claim on our Tips for Filing a Theft or Vandalism Claim page.
My car was damaged in an accident. Do I have to file a police report?
Yes. Always file a police report after an accident.
The report gives you a record of what happened in case questions about who was at fault arise later.
Do I file a claim with my insurer if I’m not at fault?
Yes. Filing a claim with your insurance provider will help you recover your costs if the other party is not reimbursing you as they should. They may also help you recover your deductible from the at-fault party.
What if I suspect fraud?
If you suspect fraud on the part of the other party, talk to your auto insurance agent. Your state has laws against fraudulent claims, and your agent will help you make the necessary reports.
Will my vehicle be covered if it gets totaled?
If your car is totaled and you have coverage, you’ll be reimbursed for the vehicle’s actual cash value at the time of the accident. If you have gap coverage, you’ll be covered for the balance between what you still owe on your loan or lease and the car’s cash value.
Are rental cars covered if my car is in the shop?
It depends. If you have rental reimbursement coverage on your policy, it will cover rental car use while your car is being repaired. If not, you’ll likely be responsible for payment for any rental cars used as the result of the accident.