Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that exis...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Apr 23, 2020

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Things to Remember...

  • The first thing after an accident to do is find out if anyone is seriously injured
  • When filing an insurance claim for an auto accident, the police report is essential
  • Never accept any money at the scene of the accident or accept fault
  • If you have decided to file a claim, you should do it as soon as possible
  • If you know your car’s value beforehand, you will be able to judge if the amount the insurance company is offering you is fair

To have the least amount of hassle when filing an auto insurance claim, there are certain things to do immediately after the accident. The first thing to do is find out if anyone is seriously injured. If so, 911 should be called.

If not, call for any medical help required, and then call the police. When filing an insurance claim for an auto accident, the police report is essential.

Sometimes the police officers avoid filing an accident report if there are no injuries, and the damage appears to be under $500.

In this case, you should insist on an accident or an incident report, so there is a record of the accident from an impartial observer. This will cover you if the other driver’s story changes later.

When it comes to being in an accident and filing claims, no one wants to think about it. Being prepared ahead of time can save you time, effort, money, and peace of mind.

Enter your ZIP code into our FREE comparison tool to be prepared ahead of time with the best possible quotes and coverage from auto insurance companies that will back you up in the case of an accident.

Call your insurance company or local agent and inform them about the accident right away. They will give you additional tips on how to prepare for making a claim.

Get the Information You Need to Make the Insurance Claim

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While still at the scene of the accident you need to exchange information with the other party involved in the accident such as:

  • License plate numbers
  • Contact information including address, phone numbers, and email address
  • Auto insurance company information which should be on an insurance identification card in the vehicle

You also need to find any witnesses to the accident who are willing to tell what they saw and give their contact information. At this point, while it is still fresh in your mind, write down your own impression of the accident, so you don’t change your story later.

Your insurance company is obliged to believe your story or otherwise they should receive complaints, so anything you can get in writing that supports it will help.

If the accident has happened in a parking lot, the police officer may say he or she has no jurisdiction, but you can insist on an incident report.

If that is not given, ask a security guard in the area to file a report, or you could ask a shop owner to witness the fact of the accident.

Never accept any money at the scene of the accident or accept fault. Also, don’t make any statement to the effect that you are willing to overlook or forget the accident. The other party can use this against you later, and it may inhibit your rightful claim.

If your insurance covers damage from fire, theft, vandalism, flood or other unavoidable disasters, you should take photos of the damage and find a witness to the damage. You may be required to fill out a Proof of Loss form.

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File the Claim as Soon as Possible

If you have decided to file a claim, you should do it as soon as possible. Some people choose not to file a claim if the accident has caused minimal damage, and they will have to pay for repairs from their deductible anyway.

This avoids having an accident on their record, which is one of the tips for lowering auto insurance costs.

Once the insurance company is informed, they will begin acting for your case and deal with the insurance company of the other driver. They will see that you are fairly treated.

You will be given claims forms to fill out. Fill them out and return them as soon as possible.

The other person’s insurance company will call you to get your version of the accident. They will most likely record the call. You should also record the call and find out the name of the person to whom you are speaking.

Dealing with Your Auto Insurance Company

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There are state laws that protect citizens from being cheated by their insurance companies when they make a claim. It is important for you to find out what those laws are in your state and choose the most reliable auto insurance company.

You should also have a good idea about how much your car is worth. There are several different sources that give a cash value to vehicles, and the insurance company will use them all.

If you know your car’s value beforehand, you will be able to judge if the amount the insurance company is offering you is fair.

A fair evaluation of the damage to your car is also essential. When your insurance company sends someone to look at the damage on your car, make sure you are also there.

You can point out all the damage, so nothing is overlooked which could make the repair estimate too low.

You can also ask your company how they handle any damage that is only discovered after the car goes into the shop and was not listed on the original estimate. There may be differing policies here.

Many cheap auto insurance companies have repair shops that they prefer to use for claims, and if you use one of those shops, your repairs and claim processing may go faster.

If you have a dispute with your company and think their settlement is too low, you can ask for an arbitrator to resolve the dispute.

This will take up to six weeks, but the company will pay you the amount they agreed on immediately, and if the arbitrator resolves in your favor, you will get more.

Compare Policies and Quotes Online

You can use a comparison website to find an auto insurance company that has a reputation for processing claims quickly.

Enter your ZIP code into our FREE auto insurance comparison tool to see how you could save money and be prepared with a reliable company for an auto insurance claim.

Don’t let dealing with your auto insurance company for a claim be a hassle. Get a great company ahead of time that will take care of you when filing a claim.

You can also get different quotes for the type of coverage you need without having to contact many different companies.