Road accidents and mishaps happen. In the US, auto liability claims for property damage averaged $3.6K, and bodily injury claims averaged $15.3K in 2017, according to IIT (Insurance Information Institute).
Another statistic points to drivers’ or motorists’ likelihood to submit an auto claim once in 18 years. Whether this number holds for you or not, filing an auto insurance claim is part of your driving life.
Safety on the Road
Since you’ve learned how to drive, you have been taught about precautions for everyone’s safety and well-being on the road. That’s why you practice defensive driving and avoid drunk driving at all cost.
You also check your car before you drive out of your garage. If you have a pickup truck or an SUV, you install products that prevent damaging cars (yours and other motorists) and injuring people. Fender flares on Ram 1500 are such deterrents as they ensure your moving wheels don’t hurl out objects that can hurt any person or property.
But just in case you are involved in a road crash and your car has sustained damages at unestimated costs, what do you need to do? This situation calls for basics on auto insurance and claiming for covered losses.
The Kind of Claim
Auto insurance claims for property damage or bodily injury are broadly categorized into two types:
- First-party claim is the claim you filed with your car insurance.
- Third-party claim is the claim you filed with the insurer of the other driver.
If you end up filing a third-party claim, let your insurer know so that you and your insurer are on the same page.
These happen when you contact your insurer right after the incident:
- You will know whether they cover a particular loss or not.
- You will be guided on how to file your claim and the supporting documentation.
The police report, personal information about the other party involved in the accident, and other relevant records can support your case to get paid by the insurer.
The Key Aspects of Your Insurance
You can set your expectations if you know the critical aspects of your car insurance, starting with the coverage:
- Most car crashes fall under this insurance coverage. By crashes, it can be you or someone else causing the collision or your car crashing into objects in the road.
- This coverage allows you to pay for repair/damage costs and medical expenses incurred by others in accidents you have caused.
- This insurance type covers damages caused by circumstances beyond your control, like a tree falling on your car, acts of God, as they are called.
For every coverage, there is a deductible, or the amount you have to pay out of your pocket before the coverage is applied. This deductible kicks in when you file a claim. For example, you filed for $2,000 worth of repairs, and your deductible is $500. You will pay up the $500, and the insurer will cover the remaining $1,500.
The Time Frame
File your claim as soon as possible. Consult your state, country, or insurer concerning deadlines on the following:
- Filing the actual application and documentation
- Resolution of any claim dispute
- Filing of additional proof
Whether there’s a specific deadline or not, submit your auto insurance claim within a reasonable time to avoid any prejudice.
Now, you wait for the outcome of the insurer’s investigation on your claim. Pending your claim approval, you may have to send your car to the repair shop.
If your claim is denied or the approved amount is lower than expected, you can appeal the findings to the insurer. Some experts recommend that you work closely with the claims adjuster so you can get an estimate of the repairs costs and can disagree and ask for how the values were calculated.
To File or Not to File? It’s Your Choice But . . .
Some argue that you don’t have to file a claim for every single road incident especially if you can settle it among the parties involved. That argument is valid where the damages are relatively minor. If the stakes are higher, especially if someone is at fault, filing a claim makes sense.
You can’t pay for every single car repair out of pocket especially if your insurance can cover it.