About the Car Insurance Claims Process

The claims process is generally the same whether you are submitting a claim for vehicle damage or bodily injury. It involves you notifying your car insurance company about the accident. You will then make a claim for damages or medical expenses. Your insurance company can either send you to a partner car repair shop for an estimate or send an adjuster to you to assess the damage to your car. Once the estimate has been approved, you will receive a check from your insurance company which you will use to pay for either all or a portion of the repairs depending upon your particular coverage.

Who to File Claim With

If you are in an accident and are not at fault, it may be unclear which insurance company you should make a claim to, your company or the other driver's insurance provider. The reality is you may have to file with both. Begin with your insurance company.

As soon as you realize you will not be getting the entire claim approved, notify the other driver's company that you intend to file a claim with them for the difference. Be sure to include any deductible in your claim to the other insurance company. You will only be able to collect from them what your own company does not pay – you cannot be reimbursed for the same thing from both companies.

Approving Claim Amounts

There are several pieces of information your insurance company will use to finalize the claim amount. They will begin with what you tell them at the time you report the accident. Information provided by the other driver is also included. If that contradicts what you say, they will rely on the police report. Witnesses to the accident may be contacted if further information or verification is needed. Finally, documented damage of your car at the scene of the accident will be used.

When Claim is Settled

Just because your claim is "approved" does not mean you agree with the claim settlement offered by your insurance company. And if you do not agree with the amount offered, you do not have to accept it. You have the right to request an arbitration hearing to dispute their offer. It can take up to six weeks to schedule a hearing. In the meantime, you are permitted to cash the check already sent to you. If additional money is approved through the arbitration, you will receive a second check.

Keep in mind that arbitration is only available with your insurance company. If you dispute the offer made by the other driver's company, they can, but are not required to, offer you a hearing. But not to worry, you always have the option of filing a lawsuit against them to get the money you deserve.

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