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How to File an Insurance Claim: Everything You Need to Know

What is an insurance claim?

When you file an insurance claim, you are formally asking your insurance company to receive funds to help pay for repairs and other expenses arising from a policy event (such as a car accident or home burglary) that are covered by the safe.

After submitting all the documentation, the insurance company usually sends an insurance officer to investigate what happened. Then, if the claim is validated and approved, you will receive a check in the mail to cover your losses.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, one in 20 homeowners files a claim each year.1 As the number of Americans increases each year, auto insurance claims are increasing too - about 6% of all covered drivers Collision Filed a Claim in 2017.2 If They Didn't You haven't filed a claim now, you probably will at some point in the future!
But do you always need to file an insurance claim when you have an accident?

When is the insurance claim filed?

Archive a file or not? Shakespeare never had to deal with insurance claims, but that is the question to ask ourselves after an accident. The answer: it depends.

The general rule of thumb is that if your damages are less than the deductible (or more than a few hundred dollars), it is probably not worth the hassle of filing a claim for a very small amount of damages, if you have ever received one.

It is also important to remember that when filing a claim, there is a possibility that your insurance company will increase your premium rates. Yes, even if the other driver is at fault or you cannot control the weather. There is even the possibility that your policy will be revoked under certain circumstances.

Suppose you hit your car with a tree by mistake. You have a $ 1,000 collision coverage deductible, and it will cost you $ 1,200 to repair your car. Is it worth going through the insurance claim process for insurance payments of $ 200 and higher premiums? Probably not. In this case, you'd better use the emergency fund to cover the repairs; this is its purpose. Once you start to feel the pain financially, you must file a claim.

Here are three specific scenarios that you should seriously consider filing a claim:

1. When a person is injured

If you are in a car accident and you, the other driver, or a passenger are injured in either vehicle, this is an automatic reason to file a claim.

2. When it is not clear who is wrong

Sometimes there is some confusion about who is at fault for an accident. In this case, you will let the insurance companies of both parties find out.

3. When you suffer a "total loss" or cannot pay compensation

When your car is fully charged, you are likely to be looking at thousands of dollars in compensation. These are some of the huge costs that you probably won't be able to afford on your own. So filing a claim makes sense.

Every situation is different, so it is important that you contact a representative of your insurance company or an independent insurance agent to help you weigh the pros and cons of filing a claim in your case.

How to file an insurance claim

So let's say you just had a big car accident and the front end of your car broke down like a broken accordion. You're fine, thank goodness, but it's pretty clear that your car is most likely a total loss and you'll need to file an insurance claim.

What are you going to do exactly? We are delighted with your question! Here are some important steps you need to take to file your insurance claim.

Step 1: call the police if necessary

If you commit a crime, someone is injured in an accident, or there is significant damage, don't just stand there. Call 911 and get help! And while you don't necessarily need a police report to file an insurance claim, it definitely doesn't hurt to have one.

The police report will show exactly what happened in an accident or at the crime scene, and will include information that will greatly facilitate the insurance claim process.

Step 2: document everything and exchange information

Now is the time to document what you can from the crash site and gather information from all parties involved. Think of it as a scavenger hunt. Make sure you have the following:
  • Name, address, phone number of other drivers, and a photo of their driver's license, if applicable
  •  Insurance policy numbers
  • Year, make and license plate number of all vehicles in question
  • Pictures of the accident from all sides and angles.
  • Detailed notes of any conversations you have had with the people involved in the accident.

If you are injured and need medical attention, you will also want to stick to medical reports, medical bills, and other documents that you receive to deal with accident-related injuries.

What about home insurance claims? Take pictures of the damage to your home or make a list of things that were damaged or stolen in the robbery. If you have to stay in a hotel while you make repairs to your home, keep your receipts as proof of costs.

Step 3: contact your insurance company

Once you and everyone involved in the accident are safe, contact an agent at your insurance company and ask what else you will need to file your claim. Your agent knows the ins and outs of the claims process and will be able to provide you with the guidance you need.

Here are some basic questions you can ask your insurance agent:

1. Who do I report my claim to?

If you are in a car accident and the other driver is at fault, you are likely to file a claim with your insurance company. But in most other cases, you will file a claim with your insurance company. Regardless of the case, you will still want to contact your insurance company and keep them informed.

2. How long do I have to file a claim?

Depending on your insurance company and the type of policy you have, you may have as little as 30 days or three years to file your insurance claim. Either way, once you have a good treatment of the damage that has occurred and have all the necessary information you need, you should try to file your insurance claim as soon as reasonably possible.

3. What do I need to file an insurance claim?

When filing a claim, you will be asked to provide some basic details, such as where and when the accident or accident occurred, contact information for everyone involved, and a description of what happened. You may also be asked to provide an estimated cost of the damage caused by the accident, if any.

When filing a homeowners insurance claim, you will need to complete a Proof of Loss Statement and list the items stolen or damaged and how much it will cost to replace them.

Step 4: submit your insurance claim

Well, I called all the right people. You have collected as much information as you can. Now is the time to file your claim.

Most insurance companies allow you to file a claim online, through the mobile app, by phone with one of their agents, or by completing a claim form and submitting it by email or fax. It's your choice!

What to expect after filing an insurance claim

Now what? After submitting your application, the insurance company may send an insurance officer to investigate the accident and damage. Think of the officer as the insured version of Sherlock Holmes, minus the tube and cap.

During the investigation, the insurance officer will analyze all the facts to arrive at the truth of what happened. After determining the cause of the accident, the officer will make a recommendation on how much the insurance company should pay for the loss.

And one more thing: if you are dealing with another officer of the insurance company, remember that your goal is to spend as little money as possible. That is why it is so important to accurately document the accident and be completely honest about your injuries and all parts of the accident, in case you try to minimize your losses.

Talk to an insurance professional

Whether or not you've had an accident in years, it's important to be prepared. This means making sure you have the right coverage.

Our local Certified Independent Insurance Providers (ELPs) are professionals who can review your current policy and find the best coverage at the right price. This way, you'll be ready for whatever life has its way.