The Car Insurance Claim Checklist
The blast of horns. The screech of tires. The bracing for impact. Then you know: an insurance claim is coming. The last thing you want to think about when you’ve just been in an accident is the paperwork, but making sure that you follow the proper protocol is vital. Making sure that you have taken the other person’s details and photos of the accident could be the difference between getting paid on time and not getting paid at all.
Print this insurance claims checklist and keep it in your glove box. Try and get a handle on this easy checklist, so that you know what to do if you’re ever involved in a car accident:
- Assess the scene: Are you injured? What about any passengers you may have in your car, or other motorists? Are you or others in imminent danger of being hit by other motorists? Try and get to a safe place before you do anything else.
- Call 911: Orient yourself so that you can describe your specific location. If there are injuries or the suspicion of injuries, don’t hesitate to call 911. If you’re calling to report the accident, that’s also fine, but just know that the police may not respond, especially if you’re in a parking lot or other private property where they may argue that they don’t have jurisdiction. Just know that your insurance company may instruct you to call 911 regardless of the accident particulars.
- Meet the other drivers: Unless you hit a telephone pole or another stationary object, you’ll need to meet the other drivers involved and exchange information. Get their license plate, insurance details and contact information.
- Capture the scene: Take pictures, look for witnesses and record a video if needed. Get photos of the front, side and back of your car as well as any skid marks, damage to property and positioning of the vehicles. Even images of the sun glare or poorly positioned road signs can help to corroborate your side of the story.
- Contact the insurance company: Damage to a vehicle is often difficult to judge to the untrained eye, so inform your insurance company as soon as you can with details of what happened. A seemingly benign dent may be much more serious than it appears and a car that appears to be totaled may be repaired for much less than first expected. Finally, be sure to know all the ways to contact your insurance company or agent – phone, email or via an app – and have that info easily accessible. Keep your insurance details in your glove box for these ‘just in case’ situations.
- File a police report: This is another step that some consider optional. If the police arrive at the accident, you’ll likely have a report. If not, you’ll have to swing by the station. This isn’t a compulsory step, but if you don’t file a report and other impacted drivers do, it’s their word vs. yours – and they likely have the upper hand for having reported the accident.
- Make a plan with your insurer: You may receive a call from other drivers’ insurance company regarding an insurance claim; be sure to talk with your own insurer to decide the best way to handle any questions.
- Meet the adjuster: An insurance adjuster may meet you to review your vehicle, assign a value to any damage you may have occurred and ensure you get a check for the right amount. You want to be extra nice: they hold the purse strings!
- You can appeal: If you disagree with the value that an adjuster assigns to your damage, you can appeal. Follow up with the insurance company is processing the claim and explain why you think it’s worth more.
Filing a claim is not a one-size-fits all process. Depending on where you live, who’s at fault, and a number of other factors, your claims procedure may look quite different. By following this template and using it as a guide, you’ll be on the road to getting back on the road. Click the links below to share with friends and family so that you’re all prepared for whatever happens on the road.