With the amount of time many of us spend driving, be it commuting to work or running errands, accidents are bound to happen. The accidents a driver witnesses or is part of can be easier to understand because the blame more clearly falls on one party or the other. But what about accidents where you don’t know who caused the damage? Parking lot bumps, vandalism, and severe weather can all cause ambiguous damage that a driver might not be a witness to. Here’s how to navigate an insurance claim when you don’t know who is at fault.
Do your own damage assessment
Not all issues require an insurance claim. If your car was damaged by an unknown source, your first step should be to assess the damage on your own.
You can get a repair estimate and determine if the costs would be higher than your deductible. For small scratches or dents, it might be cheaper to pay out of pocket for the damage and not file a claim with your insurance company.
If you do file a claim for a minor cost, you might also end up paying more in the long run, because your insurance company could raise your rates. It’s best to consider the damage first to see if it warrants a higher cost repair and therefore a claim.
Gather your policy information and file a police report
If the damage is severe then you will want to file a claim. The first step in filing a claim is always to gather policy information like your policy number, policy coverage dates, and personal information. If there were any witnesses to the accident you will want their info too. Be sure to record the approximate time of the accident and take photos of the damage.
Immediately following the accident or the time that you notice the damage, you might also consider filing a police report. If your car was damaged in a parking lot or public area, you should react quickly to collect details and record information because your insurance company might require these documents later.
Meet with a claims adjuster
Your insurance company will assign a professional adjuster to evaluate the damage to your vehicle. You will discuss your insurance coverage, and they will likely assess the damage and take photos. If you were diligent in recording details after the accident or damage, then you will be better prepared and able to offer the claims professional more information.
Wait to make major repairs
As long as your safety isn’t at risk, you should wait to make vehicle repairs until you have a decision from your insurance provider. Once they have approved your claim, they will provide you with compensation or ask you to move forward with repairs and submit a receipt. Keep any repair receipts related to the incident in case your insurance company requests them.
Any incidents involving damage to your vehicle can be confusing and frustrating to deal with. Remember that you don’t always have to file a claim and be sure to take the time to consider the options that your coverage provides.