How Do Auto Insurance Companies Handle Claim Settlements?

Posted on: 11Feb,2016

When you take into consideration that no two auto insurance companies are alike, it stands to reason that any statements regarding any situation cannot be made with any accuracy. Most of these issues depend primarily on the insurer, especially when they are handling accident claims. It also depends in part on the driver’s situation at the time. Fortunately, there are specific guidelines regarding the filling out of auto insurance claims.

Let’s assume, for the sake of this content that you were recently involved in an auto accident where no bodily injuries occurred and you decided to file claim for property damages with your insurance company. Naturally, your first step is to contact your agent regarding your pending claim. You can do this online or over the phone, depending on who your insurer is, as some companies today only allow you to do this over the internet.

Initial Phase

If you choose the online route for filing your claim, you will probably be asked to provide your insurer with the following information:

• date of accident
• description of accident and how it occurred
• location of accident
• name and address along with insurance information and license plate of other party
• police department involved
• police report number
• policy number (found on insurance ID card)

Investigation Phase

Once you have filed your claim, you insurance agent should follow up with you at which time they will have determined whether or not your claim is covered in your policy. If he or she tells you that your claim is covered, you may be asked to provide some additional information, depending on how much you provided when you initially filed your claim. For instance, he or she may ask you to get a copy of the police report and submit it. Hopefully, you did contact your local police department, even if it was only a minor accident.

Additionally, your insurance company may want to interview any witnesses that saw the accident. At that point, your insurer may send a claim adjuster or inspector to evaluate the extent of the vehicle damage and provide you with an estimate for the repairs. Or, they may instruct you to visit one of their company-approved body shops to get your repair estimate. However, they may also ask you to get two or three estimates from body shops you select and then submit those for review.

You always have the right to select a body shop if you do not approve of your insurance company’s choice. However, just as you have the right to choose the repair shop, your insurer has the right to reject their estimate should they feel they are too high in price. In that case, they will only cover the amount they approved and you may have to pay the remaining balance of the repair costs.

If needed, and if your policy contains the coverage, your insurance company will have your vehicle towed to the repair shop and handle any accommodations for a rental vehicle if the situation warrants it. Once your insurer has approved your claim including the amount of the repairs and the shop that performs them, you are one step closer to having your vehicle repaired and in good operating order.

Repair Phase

Once your vehicle has been taken to the body shop, all you need to do is wait for them to call you and let you know that the repairs are complete so you can come pick it up. Just remember that no matter which body shop you have chosen, you will have to pay your deductible before you can bring your vehicle home. Before you leave the body shop, be sure that you inspect your vehicle thoroughly, especially the area where the damage was before the repairs were completed. If you are not satisfied with the work, discuss your concerns with the body shop and get these issues resolved as quickly as possible.

On a closing note, keep in mind that there may be additional steps involved depending on who your insurance carrier is. The time to find out about the claims process is when you are initially signing up with your insurance company. That is the best time to have any questions you need answered ahead of time.