car claim guide, car accident, how to start a car insurance claim

What do I do after getting into a wreck?

When an insured (you) suffers a loss, you must notify the insurance company.  Notifying the agent that first sold you the policy, is the same as the insurance company.

When the insurer receives notification of the claim, it assigns the claim to adjuster who is responsible for settling the claim

Questions that may be asked before deciding on claim payout are:

  • Has a policy been issued and is it still in force?
  • Did an insured peril cause the loss?
  • Was the damage property covered by the policy?
  • Did the loss occur in a place covered by the policy?
  • Have all policy conditions been met?

If the adjuster receives acceptable answers to these question, the claims process stops here.  The check is written and the claim is closed.

If after the initial investigation the adjuster believes the claim is valid. A proof of loss is sent to the insured.  The insured must sign the proof of loss and swear to its accuracy.  The policy details the information required in the proof, some of which are,

  1. the time
  2. place
  3. and cause of loss

If proof of loss meets satisfaction, the insured receives a check and the case is closed.  Many claims will require a long investigation and may involve fraud or inflated demand.

What are types of adjusters the might get assigned to a claim?

Most adjusters are salaried employees of a company, known as staff adjusters.  There may be independent adjusters, like independent insurance agents, they work with many insurers.  An insurance company may use an independent adjuster in an area where there is no local staff adjuster.  In the event of a catastrophe, like a hurricane an insurance company may not have enough staff adjusters to handle all the claims, so they would bring in independent adjusters to help lighten the load and speed up the claims process. 

So, you just got into a wreck and you don’t know what to do.

Here’s a step by step guide to walk you through what happens:


1. Get their contact information (name, phone number, insurance company)

You need to know who you just got into a wreck with, this isn’t negotiable. Get their name, phone number and insurance card information. Take a picture of their insurance card if you can, but at the very least grab a name and phone number, or email address if they wish to communicate that way.


2. Contact the local authority (click here to search for your local department)

Step 1 can be the hardest sometimes, and it’s not unheard of for people to be emotional after an accident. It’s OK, emotions are to be expected, but that’s why it will always be recommended to contact your local authority to have a third part present.


3. Describe the incident

You need to know where you are, the time of day, the vehicles and parties involved. Describing the incident that caused the accident is necessary to determine fault and who’s insurance company will pay out for the claim. Trust me, insurance companies don’t want to pay out for a claim that they feel their insured (you) are not responsible for, way more than you don’t want to have to use your insurance. So, relax! You don’t need to throw down in the middle of the road trying to get the other person to admit they did wrong.


4. Call your agent or insurance company

You should know the name of your own insurance company, or agent. Look on your insurance card, or go to your agent’s website or insurance company’s website and you should find a number or email address to reach out to. As soon as you have a free moment, give them a call to let them know of the incident. Most every insurance company has a 24/7 claims phone number where you can at least report the accident.



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