Auto Insurance Claim Check: Will it be made out to me?

The auto insurance claim check will typically be made out to you if your vehicle is fully paid for. However, to prevent insurance fraud, providers often make the claim check out to you and their approved auto body shop. Your provider also has the right to leave your name off the check and pay their partnering repair shop directly. If you are leasing your car or still making payments on it, your insurance provider will typically write the claim check out to you and your leaseholder or lienholder.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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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 and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Things to Remember...

  • If you own your vehicle outright, then you should be able to get a check cut in your name
  • When a lien is still on the car, the check will be made to both you and the body shop/lien holder
  • Be sure you get your car appraised for its damages by a third-party auto body shop, which they will do for free

Whether or not the auto insurance claim check will be made out to you is going to depend on a variety of factors. The company, policy and circumstances surrounding the accident are all involved.

First thing’s first: if your car is paid for, then typically the insurance claim check will be made out to you. But keep in mind that insurance check cashing laws different from state to state, and that other factors – such as lienholders, auto body shops, and company policies – will have bearing on the pay-out process.

It also helps to know what type of auto insurance coverage you have, and what the company’s policies and processes are.

Issues an auto insurance company deliberates over before issuing a check to the rightful party or parties are the following:

  • Is there a lien on your vehicle or not?
  • Whose fault is the accident?
  • What type of coverage do you have?
  • What is your deductible?
  • Is there an auto insurance claim check endorsement needed?
  • Is it a third party insurance claim check?
  • Is the insurance claim check made out to you and the lienholder?
  • Is the insurance claim check made out to you or your company?

Read on for more specifics of how this decision is made. While no one wants to be in a situation where they need to submit a claim, it happens. And your auto insurance rates can spike because of it.

Saving on auto insurance is a big win for everyone and fortunately, there are many ways you can save, even if you’ve filed a claim. The easiest and quickest way is to compare live quotes from different auto insurance companies.

Enter your ZIP code into our free online quote comparison tool to do just that and start saving on auto insurance today.

Will the insurance company make the claim check out to me?

Yes, if you own your vehicle outright, then you should be able to get a check cut in your name. So, if your insurance company doesn’t do this, you should simply go back to them and let them know you own your car and that you would like a check cut in your name.

The insurance company may ask for proof of your ownership of the car before doing this, but otherwise, there should be no issue. You should have no trouble proving you truly own the car.

If you decide not to use the check to fix your car, that is your legal right when you fully own your vehicle. But understand that if you try to get the same part fixed later on and submit a claim then that is deemed as fraud.

Moreover, if you get into another car accident and the same area of your car is damaged, the insurance company may or may not issue a check if they find out that you never applied the first check towards repairs to that part or area of your car.

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Will the insurance company make the claim check out to me?

If there is still a lien on your car, then the insurance claim check will be made with your name and the lienholder or the body shop on the check. Sometimes, the body shop will only be on the check.

The reason why the insurance company does this is that when you financed your vehicle, the lien owner required you to have a certain level of insurance to protect their investment the auto you are in the process of paying off. In fact, many lienholders will require you to have collision and/or comprehensive insurance. (This is where knowing the difference between collision and comprehensive auto insurance, and what each covers, becomes helpful.)

So, because you have not paid off the vehicle, then the insurance company is obligated to either cut a check in the lienholder’s or auto shop’s name as well as yours.

Sometimes, if you only owe a few more payments to your vehicle, and you really don’t want to get your car fixed, you can ask your lien company if you can apply the insurance payment towards what you owe on the car sometimes the company will accept these terms.


What if I don’t want to take it to the auto body shop my insurance recommended?

That is fine. You may have to get a new insurance claim check re-issued to the auto shop you have chosen. You may find that the auto shop you have chosen has a better rate than the one the insurance company recommended.

Here’s a tip: be sure you get your car appraised for its damages by a third party auto body shop (which they will do for free).

If you end up going with another body shop, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also recommends checking in with your your state Attorney General’s office or local consumer protection agency for relevant complaints.

If for some reason the amount the auto body shop is quoting and the insurance company adjuster is claiming don’t match, then you should definitely negotiate that with your company before you sign any paperwork letting the insurance company off from the liability of this claim.

Once you or the auto body shop that you have chosen has negotiated an amount with your insurance provider, make sure that everything that is supposed to be fixed will be, and then you should be good to go.

What if the check is being issued by the insurance company of the other driver who was at fault?

Then a check can be put into your name because the insurance company should not care if your car has a lien on it or not. An insurance company in this situation is simply paying out for the damages caused by their insured driver; therefore, whether the car is owned free-and-clear by you is inconsequential to them.

However, if an auto insurance company must determine fault, this can result in a delay in you getting your insurance claim check.

Realize that this is usually a lengthy process if you wait for the other party to admit wrongdoing. And if you do, that you may be out of a car for a while.

If and when the other insurance provider accepts responsibility for the accident, it will simply reimburse your insurance provider all money it has paid out thus far (plus your deductible, which your insurance company didn’t cover).

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Can I use the insurance claim check for anything?

Although tempting as it may be to cash the check and use the money for something else, this is fraudulent and not recommended. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III),

Fraud accounted for between 15 percent and 17 percent of total claims payments for auto insurance bodily injury in 2012

Also, usually sooner or later the insurance company or your lien company will realize a check was issued to you, and wonder what repairs you had done to the car. If you have no proof of repairs, you will be forced to get that money back to your insurance company, and my face legal problems.

How will an auto insurance company pay me for a claim?

Your auto insurance policy details how the company processes claims. Make sure to (1) fulfill any requirements, (2) look for hidden damage, and (3) avoid fraud.

  • There are several different ways that an insurance company could pay out a claim
  • Read through your policy so you know the expectations for payout claims processing
  • Research can help you make sure you are not surprised at all when it comes to getting paid for a claim

Each automobile insurance company has a specific procedure for providing the funds to the policyholder following the approval of a claim.

Auto insurance policy documentation provides specific information concerning the situations that occur where the insurer has the right to deny an accident claim.

Once the accident claim is filed, the insurance company will verify the facts and require the policyholder to comply with traffic law, which requires police reports to be filed in a timely manner.

The auto insurance policy must be in force, or paid current, for the insurer to approve, and pay, claims.

To avoid trouble with auto insurance companies for claims, enter your ZIP code into our FREE comparison tool to find affordable quotes from reliable companies ahead of time!

Insurance Claim Check to Policyholder

An auto insurance claims adjuster will meet the policyholder where the automobile is taken after the accident. Damage will be assessed, which includes the estimated cost of repairs.

Extensive damage can result in a decision to declare the vehicle “totaled.” A specific amount of money is provided by check directly to the policyholder.

If your car is declared a total loss, don’t be surprised if you’re offered a low valuation. If this happens, remember that it can really pay off to negotiate the amount of the total loss, whether that means getting an independent appraisal or looking at the prices of comparable automobiles. If you end up in a dispute, legal experts say it may be beneficial to seek the assistance of an attorney.

Cashing the check is the legal agreement to the amount that is written on the check. Disputes that follow cashing the check can be difficult to win.

A wise policyholder will conduct some extensive research prior to cashing the check from the insurance company.

An automobile that does not have a loan against it will be handled in this fashion. Dealing with denied claims from auto insurance companies can be a bit harder to handle.

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Insurance Claim Check with Policyholder and Lender Names

Auto insurance companies track the lenders that are holding the titles to vehicles insured through their companies.

Policyholders will receive a check with the lender name in addition to their own name if a loan is on the vehicle.

In this instance, the policyholder is required to visit the lender to fill out a form stating their intention to have the vehicle repaired.

A body shop will not begin repairs until the policyholder proves that the lender has co-signed the check.

Insurance adjusters will ask the policyholder if the loan has been repaid in full prior to writing the check.

Insurance Claim Check Made Out to Body Shop

The insurance company has the option to write the check directly to the body shop.

This practice is less common than the other two approaches to providing funds to the policyholder for an approved claim.

Insurers will maintain a list of approved body shops that keep their costs low in exchange for the repair business.

This method is beneficial to the policyholder when the body shop mechanic finds hidden damage that is not covered in the original estimate.

Costs that exceed the original amount will be addressed between the body shop and the insurance company without unnecessary involvement of the policyholder.

Timing of the Payment

Many people rely on their vehicles to go to work and conduct various important life activities. Insurance companies understand the importance of repairing a vehicle in the shortest possible time.

Each insurer will follow an individual schedule for payments made for the approved claim that follows an accident.

Policyholders can determine which applies to their situation by reading the policy documentation:

  • First adjuster visit – Some insurance company representatives, called adjusters, are authorized to estimate the cost of repairs and write a check immediately. The policyholder is trusted to use the funds for the cost of repairs
  • After estimates – Other insurers will require a specific number of estimates from various local body shops prior to providing the funds for the repairs. The lowest estimate is not necessarily the claim paid by the insurance company
  • Recommended body shop – After the repairs are completed, the insurance company pays the body shop for the final invoice amount. This method can encourage the body shop mechanic to work more quickly since he will not be paid until the car is repaired

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Cautionary Statements

Policy documentation will provide specific information about the money provided after an auto insurance claim is approved. Lenders and insurance companies have expectations about the claim payments that must be met:

  • Car must be repaired – Receipt of a check from the insurance company for an automobile claim does not mean that the policyholder is free to spend the money on other obligations. At some point prior to the sale of the vehicle, the policyholder will want to address the damage incurred in the accident
  • Hidden damage – Every policyholder must understand how hidden vehicle damage will be addressed. Postponing the cashing of the first check from the insurance company allows the policyholder to dispute the amount of money provided. Insurance representatives will make recommendations about how to handle a discovery of additional damage
  • Avoid fraud – State laws differ, so the policyholder is wise to conduct research about the requirements concerning the funds provided for valid auto insurance claims. Defrauding an insurance company carries stiff, long-lasting penalties

Will the insurance claim check be made out to me? A Final Word

Research is an important part of understanding the details associated with an auto insurance policy.

All payout details are written into the documentation, so the policyholder can avoid surprises if an accident occurs.

Some auto insurance shoppers will choose an insurance company based on their claim payment method. An insurance agent or customer service representative can provide details concerning the payment procedures during the underwriting process.

If the claims process tells us anything, it’s that who we insure with is important. Begin shopping for the most affordable insurance company today by plugging your ZIP code into our free quote tool.

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