When you're in an accident, your likely first instincts are generally not the ones that are recommended to drivers at the scene. From admitting fault to losing your temper, it's easy to make a mistake. But no matter how you acted when it occurred, you have the chance to right certain wrongs when you file a claim.
Here are three steps to filing an auto insurance claim that will streamline the process.
1. Get Started Immediately
While you're not required to file a claim immediately, it's highly recommended. The longer you wait, the more exposed your car is and the murkier the details of the accident become. This can make it more difficult to prove your statements, especially if you didn't take timestamped photos at the time of the accident. While your safety is of the utmost importance, you should contact your agent as soon as you feel ready to report the accident. Now is a good time to ask the agent how long you have to submit bills or dispute claims. It’s also a good time to see whether you can get a rental car while your car is in the shop.
2. Keep All Your Information
From the other driver's license plate number to your medical reports, you should be organizing and saving all documentation related to the accident. The more proof you have, the more likely it is that your insurance will cover everything you need them to. Your insurance agent should give you directions for how to submit all your information, and whether you need a police report on file to successfully process the claim. Each agency has its own process, but you'll generally be asked to answer questions related to your claim and provide all corresponding paperwork.
3. Take Action
This can mean contacting eyewitnesses, gathering estimates or taking your car into the mechanic. Your job now is to comply with your insurance company to make the claims process go as smoothly as possible. As you work with everyone from your agent to your mechanic, make sure to keep communication open. That way, there are fewer chances of important details falling through the cracks.
Filing a claim may be stressful and time-consuming, but the rewards are well worth it. The sooner you finish up, the sooner you can be back on the road.