How to File an Auto Insurance Claim

As soon as possible after an accident, you should contact the police, exchange information with the other driver, and take pictures of the damage to support your insurance claim. You might need to submit a claim to either your insurance carrier or the insurance of the other motorist, depending on your coverage and the circumstances of the collision.

Each automobile insurance claim is distinct. State insurance rules may have an impact on the process’s timing and determination of fault.

Know your rights as a policyholder and what to do if an insurer rejects your claim or makes a lowball offer.


  • Call your insurance company after calling the police, exchanging information with the other motorist, and documenting the damage for your insurance claim.
  • In the event that the other motorist was at fault, you can make a claim with their insurance provider. Otherwise, make a claim with your own insurer if you have collision, comprehensive, personal injury protection (PIP), or uninsured motorist coverage.
  • Insurance companies refuse claims if you don’t have the necessary coverage, lied on your application, or if you’re suspected of fraud.
  • Laws governing comparative negligence may place a cap on the size of a settlement offer.
  • Your state’s insurance department might be able to aid if you’re dissatisfied with the outcome of your claim.

Steps to Take: What to Do at the Accident Scene

You’ve recently been in a fender bender. What you must do is as follows:

Obtain Safety
If you can do so safely, relocate your car to the side of the road if it is obstructing traffic. However, if your automobile is dripping liquids, such oil or gas, leave the area immediately and get to a secure location. To alert other drivers, use flares or emergency triangles.

Look for any injuries
Call 911 if there are any injuries from the collision. Up until an ambulance comes, provide first assistance.
Record the Damage

Make an insurance call
Even if the other motorist appears to be at blame for the collision, speak with your insurance agent. Ask the following inquiries to an agent while chatting with them:

  • What insurance do I have?
  • Which coverage restrictions apply to me?
  • My deductible, what is it?
  • Is a rental automobile covered by my insurance? The agent can ask you to send pictures of the damage to your automobile or make a time for a physical examination. Typically, the agent will ask you to bring your car to a body shop to get an idea of the cost of repairs.

Claiming Damages from the Other Driver

If you have the insurance coverage required to pay for repairs to your automobile or pay for injuries, you can submit a claim with your own insurance carrier after a traffic accident. However, you can make a claim with the other driver’s insurance company if they were at fault for the collision. A first-party claim is one that is made with your insurance company, whereas a third-party claim is one that is made with the insurance company of another motorist.

There are benefits and drawbacks to third-party claims. If you come to an agreement, their insurance company will cover the claim. Not your insurance company.

The third-party insurer, however, speaks for its policyholder—not you. If the third-party adjuster finds that their insured was to blame for the collision after reviewing the incident, they could make you an offer of compensation. Their policyholder must assist the investigation for this to happen.

Utilizing Your Own Insurance to File a Claim
You can make a claim with your insurance provider if you are hurt in an accident and your automobile is damaged. As long as your coverage is in effect, you must submit a claim to your carrier if you are responsible for an accident. Most states require you to submit a first-party claim if you have:

Collision: For collision-related accidents
Comprehensive: about robbery and vandalism
Payments for medical expenses or PIP insurance coverages: For wounds
Uninsured driver: Unless the other motorist has insurance

How much time do you have to make an insurance claim for a car?
Your contract with your insurance provider and the statute of limitations in your state will determine the time period you have to file a vehicle insurance claim. Your subsequent actions are outlined in your motor insurance policy’s “duties after an accident or loss” section.

Typically, the policy will just state “promptly.” However, the policy could specify further actions, such notifying police authorities about a vehicle’s theft, vandalism, or hit-and-run damage within 24 hours. Additionally, you might have to submit a medical claim within a specific window of time following treatment.

What Takes Place in a ‘No-Fault’ Accident?
In a “no-fault” jurisdiction, regardless of who was at fault for the collision, each motorist submits a personal injury claim to their own insurance carrier. Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which was put in place to lessen vehicle accident claims, covers your and your passengers’ medical costs in the event of an injury accident. The state will mandate a minimum level of insurance coverage, with higher levels being optional.

Is a Police Report Required to File a Car Insurance Claim?
Yes. In certain places, police only attend to fatal or seriously injured car accidents. However, municipal and state regulations frequently stipulate that you must report an accident to the police or department of motor vehicles within a certain amount of time. After a traffic collision, always call the police to report the incident to prevent potential fines or issues with an insurance claim.

What Is Subrogation in Insurance?
Let’s say you make a third-party claim and the insurance provider of the negligent party doesn’t provide a settlement that fully compensates you for your damages. If you have collision or comprehensive insurance, you can submit a claim in that situation. Your insurer might try to recover the discrepancy between your coverage amount and the responsible party’s insurance company through the subrogation process.


By provider, the claim-filing procedure differs. You may submit a claim over the phone with certain insurers, and online or through a mobile app with others.

Recognize your insurance company’s claim-filing standards before an accident happens. Additionally, learn about any rules that insurers are required to abide by when processing your claim and any state and municipal legislation pertaining to police notification following an accident.

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