How to File a Car Accident Claim Report

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Car accidents are a part of life few drivers escape–even the most careful drivers will likely have to file a car accident claim report at least once in their lives.
Accident claiming can address vehicular damage, bodily harm, or even stolen property.
Although there are different types of car accident claiming reports, they are all part of the process of being reimbursed for monetary losses associated with an incident involving an insured car. This article tells you what to do and what not to do when accident claiming.

How to file a car accident claim

Being prepared is a key ingredient for success. If you have never filed a car accident claim report before, however, you may not know how to best prepare for the process. Here’s how.
  • Have the policy and accident information on hand. Whether you begin your claim online or on the phone, you should have certain information at your fingertips. The insurance company will need your policy number, coverage start and end dates, and contact information for you, others involved in the incident, and witnesses. They will also need driver’s license details and plate numbers for everyone involved, along with the date and time of the accident.
  • Take photos of the damage. You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and photos of damage incurred in an accident can be powerful evidence when accident claiming. Take pictures of your car and any others involved from multiple angles, as this is often the best evidence of what happened when stories between drivers conflict or if it’s unclear which driver is at fault.
  • Document your expenses. Save all of your receipts, including your Uber ride home, if applicable. While you may not end up being reimbursed for everything, you cannot be reimbursed for anything without proof of the expense. If you do not keep good receipt records, it is also easy to lose track of how much the accident really cost you.

Common mistakes when filing a car insurance claim

If you are not careful about meeting procedural guidelines when accident claiming, you may accidentally delay or invalidate your claim entirely.
  • Do not wait long to file your claim report. Many insurance companies require you to report an accident within a specific timeframe to be eligible for reimbursement. Taking your time filing a claim report does no one any favors, and–at best–it stalls the claims process. With too much time between the accident and filing a claim report, you also risk forgetting important details that may benefit you.
  • Do not forego being checked by a physician. Oftentimes, those involved in an accident don’t feel pain or realize there are medical issues until after the shock wears off. It doesn’t hurt to be checked by a physician, and the exam may catch issues that need to be addressed. If, for instance, you have a concussion, you may not present symptoms until hours or even days after the accident. Waiting makes it more difficult to prove that injuries were caused by the accident.
  • Do not make repairs to your vehicle without approval. Most insurance companies require an inspection by an entity or person of their choosing before reimbursing you for repairs or car replacement. If you get repairs done without approval, it will be more difficult to prove how any damage occurred. You may also pay more than the amount the insurance company covers.
DMV.org has more helpful information about filing a car accident claim report.
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FAQs

What happens when a car accident claim exceeds insurance limits?

If a car accident claim you file exceeds the insurance limits of the at-fault driver, you won’t get the excess money from the insurance company. Instead, you will have to take the at-fault driver to court and try to get the money from them personally.
You may also be able to get more money from an umbrella insurance policy.

How long after a car accident can you claim injury?

It’s a good idea to file a claim as soon as you find out about an injury, but you probably have a little bit more time than you expect. The time you have to file an injury claim after an accident can range from one to ten years, depending on the state.
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