Just how do car insurance companies handle insurance claims? Hopefully you’ll only be in a car accident very occasionally, so filing a claim will be an unfamiliar situation. Nevertheless you should know a bit about how your insurance company will handle your claim. If you understand the process you will be especially careful to collect all the information at the scene, which will mean you get your money that much sooner (which is definitely good news!).
Car insurance companies are there to protect you, but you do need to play fair. If you are less than honest in your dealings with your insurer then your claim is likely to be rejected (you can find out the top 10 reasons that car insurance companies reject claims here). Honesty is essential so the insurance company can work out what risks you pose as a driver. Lying might get you a lower vehicle insurance premium, but might also lead to the car insurance company refusing to cover you if you have an accident. All the insurance premiums you’ve paid out will just be money wasted because you will get neither cover, nor your money back. So this is definitely something to keep in mind, even before you file a claim.
Step One: All Car Insurance Companies Need Evidence
When car insurance companies process claims, they're looking at all the evidence of what happened so that they can judge whether or not you will get your pay out. So, whatever the cause of an accident you’ll need to collect evidence, because if the only evidence is from the other party it’ll give your car insurance company a skewed picture of who was to blame and how the accident occurred. The more evidence you have the faster and more efficiently car insurance companies can process your claim.
Witnesses’ contact details are very important to collect quickly because they won’t hang around for long. Photos of the scene and any damage are very helpful and make sure you photograph the other vehicle’s number plate and insurance disk. In some cases you might be able to use evidence from a dashboard cam as well.
Get the contact and insurance details of any other person who is involved in the accident. Don’t apologise or admit liability because doing so might invalidate your car insurance cover. If a police officer attends then you should get their name and badge number as well as the incident report number because your insurance provider is going to need this information.
How Do Car Insurance Companies Handle Your Claim?
Once you've covered all the on site procedures, you're going to want to claim your money! Your car insurance company will probably phone you and help you to submit your accident report. The company will require a lot of details from you. You need to be truthful because if your insurers find you have lied to them then your claim will be refused outright.
All car insurance companies have slightly different procedures, but all will assign a claims adjustor (sometimes called a loss adjustor) who will act as a liaison contact between the insurance company and the policy holder (you). The adjustor will investigate the claim and the circumstances of the accident. He will check the condition of your car before the accident, looking for things like worn-out tyres and other signs of poor maintenance. He will also check that you have complied with all the terms & conditions of your policy.
Car insurance companies will declare your car a write-off if it costs more to repair it than the car is worth. If it is repairable then you’ll be given a list of approved car repairers who have proven honest in the past and whose work is good (at least in the opinion of your insurer!). You can usually take your car to a garage that isn’t on the approved list, but the insurer is only going to pay what one of their approved garages would charge.
How Long Will This Take?!
In terms of time, it's difficult to say how long it will take for a company to investigate your claim, since this depends on many factors, such as how complicated your claim is and how much money is at stake. It could be a year or even more before you get your pay out, and you're unlikely to see any money for at least three months. Car insurance companies regularly ask for more information as well, so should your claims adjuster call you looking for more info, don't worry! This is not a sign that your claim is going to be either rejected or approved, simply that more information is needed before a decision can be made.
Check Your Policy before Any Accident
You pay your insurance premium every month, so you want to be sure you are covered. Check your car insurance policy BEFORE any accident. That way you can be certain you are complying with all the requirements (since not complying will usually mean that car insurance companies refuse to pay out at all). These requirements might include:
Honest disclosure of who the main driver is. Young drivers might falsely declare a parent as the main driver;
A truthful statement about where the vehicle is kept at night. Garaged vehicles are at lower risk of theft than those left on the street;
Whether a tracking device is fitted. You might have meant to fit one and then forgotten about it;
Keeping your vehicle roadworthy. Bald tyres, non-functioning headlights or windscreen wipers can all lead to your claim being refused;
Breaking the law. Exceeding the speed limit or number of passengers your car is designed for can all lead to the refusal of an accident insurance claim.
Car Insurance Companies and Your Claim in Summary
Making a claim to your car insurance company may be a necessity if you don't have enough money to fix your vehicle yourself (or to pay for damages to someone else's car). You will probably lose your no-claims bonus regardless of whose fault the car crash was as a consequence of making a claim, and don't forget that even if your car insurance policy pays up you will have the excess to pay and will need to take out a new policy to cover any replacement vehicle you buy.
Car accidents are always traumatic, even if nobody is hurt. They are also expensive, especially if you are judged to be at fault. Understanding how car insurance companies and insurance policies work will reduce the trauma of an accident, as well as ensuring that you get the speediest service possible. But at the end of the day the main thing to remember is to be thankful that you're alive, regardless of what happened to the lump of steel and plastic that was your car.
Main Subject: car insurance companies
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