If you are in an accident, the first thing you want to do is document as much as you can — take pictures, take the other driver’s insurance information, document the location of the accident, and write down what happened (sometimes it can be hard to remember everything after the fact). Anytime you are in an accident, you want to make sure there is a police report. Call the police and after a few days, or once one is available, make sure you get a copy of that police report. You want to have a copy to send to your insurance provider.
After you call the police, you should call your insurance company and let them know what happened. You can file an accident claim one of two ways:
If you carry full coverage, you can have your insurance pay for the damage to your car. If you do this, you must pay your deductible. Your insurance company then works with the other person’s carrier to try to get the money back, or they fight for you to try to prove the accident was not your fault. Once the claim is finished, if the accident was not your fault, you will get your deductible back. The pro of filing a claim this way? You get the damage fixed quickly. The con: You will have a paid loss on your report, which can sometimes make your insurance premium increase. If your insurance company can get the money back, the loss will not impact you as much.
You can wait for the other driver’s insurance company to finish the claim, and if the accident is deemed not your fault, they will pay for the damages to your car. The pro here: You will not have a paid loss on your report. The con: It can take a few months or longer for them to determine fault.
For any other claims that don’t involve an accident, it is still important to document as much as you can. Take pictures of where the incident happened and the damage to your car, and then call your insurance company to file the claim.