While your individual policy may have differences (refer to your policy documentation) there are some basic steps to follow:
1. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible, regardless of who is at fault. Find out whether you're covered for the loss. Even if the accident appears minor, it is important that you let your insurance company know about the incident to protect yourself.
2. Ask your agent or company representative how to proceed and what forms or documents are needed to support your claim. Your insurance company will require a "proof of claim" form and, if there is one, a copy of the police report. Increasingly, companies allow you to monitor the progress of your claim on their web site.
3. Supply all of the information your insurer requests. It is in your best interest to be complete and truthful. Fill out the claim form carefully. Keep good records. Get the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak with and copies of any bills related to the accident.
Before you ever have to file a claim, be sure to ask your insurance agent or company representative the following:
- Does my policy contain a time limit for filing claims and submitting bills?
- Is there a time limit for resolving claims disputes?
- If I need to submit additional information, is there a time limit?
- When can I expect the insurance company to contact me?
- Do I need to get repair estimates for the damage to my car?
- Will my policy pay for a rental car while my car is being repaired? If so, how much?
Each state has its own laws governing the claims process. If you have any questions, call your agent, company representative or your state insurance department. They will give you all the information you need.
What are my rights when filing a claim?
As a policyholder, you have certain legal rights that are guaranteed under the laws of your state. Your policy is a legal contract between you and your insurer. It defines your rights and obligations as well as the rights and obligations of the insurance company.
If you have any questions regarding your rights under the policy, talk to your insurance agent or company representative. You may also contact your state insurance department, state attorney general's office, or your state's consumer affairs department.