Let’s say you banged up your fender in a parking garage. You have the option of living with the dent or paying to have it repaired yourself. Either way, you’ll keep your insurance record clean and prevent your auto insurance rates from going up. But if there’s another driver involved, chances are the auto insurance company will be involved, too. So here’s the general auto insurance guide to filing a claim.
File fast. Even it you weren’t at fault, getting your auto accident claim filed quickly with your auto insurance company puts them to work for you as your advocate. Once you file your claim, your car insurance carrier is obligated to look out for your best interests. It also protects your rights to resolve any disputes that might come up about what expenses are covered. The other guy’s auto insurance company is under no such obligation to you. Finally, your auto insurance policy may have a time frame for filing. Miss it and you miss out.
If you live in a no-fault state, you must file your claim with your auto insurance company. Your no-fault insurance coverage will pay all expenses (except your deductible) up to the limit required by your state’s law. You can seek restitution from the other driver for anything over that amount.
In cases where the other driver is at fault, contact his auto insurance company and let them know you’re filing a claim with your auto insurance company and will seek restitution for any costs your insurance company doesn’t pay. These can include your deductible, car rental charges about what your company covers, time away from your job and the reduced resale value of your car. That means you’ll want to keep track of receipts, time logs and other detailed records.
Should there be any dispute between you and the other driver, expect his auto insurance company to contact you for your side of the story. Get the full name and phone number from the auto insurance agent who calls. Then either take notes or inform the caller know that you are recording the conversation. Even better, check with your auto insurance agent to find out exactly what you should and shouldn’t say before you get that phone call.
With these general auto insurance guide lines in mind, filing your actual claim couldn’t be easier. Most companies now have direct auto insurance claim filing by phone or at their website.