Do I need to take pictures of my car for auto insurance purposes?

Auto insurers require pictures of your car when you purchase auto insurance or are in an accident. This is to ensure you do not file a claim for previous damages.

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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...

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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...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Apr 24, 2020

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Things to Remember...

  • Auto insurance companies require pictures of your car either when you are purchasing insurance or after a car accident
  • Pictures of your car will ensure your honesty in filing claims before purchasing auto insurance
  • Cell phone cameras especially come in handy to document any damage to your car in an accident
  • Besides photo evidence, your auto insurance company will need other supporting documentation after a car accident

When you are purchasing insurance, some companies require you to submit pictures of your vehicle. You need to get insurance pictures taken through your local insurance office, in most cases.

Other times your insurance company requires you to take pictures of your auto after a car accident. You can personally take pictures, and your insurance company will follow up on at a licensed mechanic or repair shop.

Find an insurance company that matches your budget by entering your ZIP code above and comparing at least three to four auto insurance rates!

What is the purpose of taking photos when getting insurance?

image sourceYou may be wondering what the purpose is of getting photos taken of your vehicle when you purchase insurance? The purpose of this is to document damage to your vehicle before purchasing your policy.

For example, if you have a dent in your car, the picture will document the dent so that you can’t file a claim for it at a future time.

This procedure is to ensure your honesty in filing claims and to perhaps find damage to your vehicle you did not even notice.

A small chip in a windshield may go unnoticed by you, but an insurance company knows how quickly it can lead to the replacement of an entire windshield in the future.

An insurance company employee is required to take pictures so that a driver does not bring in photos that were taken before the damage was done. Some insurance companies have contracted this work out to mechanics or repair shops and will let you know where you can get the pictures taken.

Surprisingly, with the competitive nature of the insurance industry, many insurance companies are no longer requiring pictures.

This change is especially true of national chains that receive most of their customers online. It would be overwhelming to try and take pictures of all the vehicles requesting insurance.

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What is the purpose of taking photos after an accident?

After an accident, you can take pictures on your own, but make sure the date stamp is on each picture.

Taking pictures is important since things such as towing and police reports happen quickly. If you don’t have a camera with you, many police officers carry one for the purpose of documenting accidents.

Before you have an accident, check with your insurance carrier to see if they have insurance adjusters who come to the scene of an accident to record information.

If this is the case, you don’t have to do any of the picture taking; the adjuster will do it for you.

You want to know this information before an accident, because you may not be in the state of mind to figure it out at the scene of an accident.

If you don’t have a camera, don’t forget about your cell phone camera. Most cell phones have cameras and video cameras built-in. You can use your cell phone to record damage to your vehicle or another person’s vehicle.

Keeping record with your cell phone camera may be even better than using a traditional camera since you can e-mail the pictures directly to the insurance company.

Even with all this effort put into picture taking, most auto insurance companies will want you to take your vehicle to a certified mechanic to assess the damages. The mechanic or repair shop will take pictures for you.

Check with your insurance company to find a list of mechanics and repair shops they work with.

What other information will you need to supply besides pictures?

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When you are in an auto accident, in addition to photos, you will need to provide other information to the insurance company.

You need to fill out an official auto insurance claim form that is most likely downloadable from your insurance carrier’s website.

Although you want to fill out a claim relatively soon, wait at least 24 hours after the accident to do so.

This form will ask you for specific information such as the date and time of the accident. Your auto insurance company will also need supporting documentation such as:

  • Police reports
  • Witness statements
  • Repair shop estimates
  • Other drivers’ insurance information

Do not reveal too much information too soon. The first 24 hours after an accident can be difficult; especially if there have been any injuries.

Wait until you are thinking clearly and have been medically evaluated before telling your insurance company all the details of your accident.

Be ready for an accident by finding a reliable insurance company. Enter your ZIP code below to compare auto insurance rates from several companies!

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