August 17, 2010

How Accident Claims Are Processed By Auto Insurance Companies

The last time that you talked to your insurance agent may have been when you got an auto insurance quote. You never thought you’d have to file an auto insurance accident claim. Understanding how an insurer processes an auto insurance claim will make the process easier.

If you have an accident, you should immediately call your insurance agent and report the accident. Ask to file an auto insurance accident claim. The agent will need some basic information, such as the time and circumstances of the accident, the other driver’s information and a copy of the police report. The agent will certainly want to know about the damage to the vehicles and any injuries caused by the accident.

Next, the claim will be assigned to a claims adjuster. This person will contact you. Minor claims may be handled by phone, but the adjuster may also want to meet with you. It is the claims adjuster’s job to determine what is covered by your policy. He can explain how the claim will be handled and answer your questions.

One of the issues decided by the insurer is which driver was at fault. It may be that the insurer assigns a percentage of fault to each driver. This is an important decision because it will determine which driver’s insurance pays for the damage. If a driver is found at fault, then his or her auto insurance quote may go up in the future. The adjuster will review the police report and the information that you gave to the agent and may interview witnesses or passengers. The insurer uses government regulations called “Fault Determination Rules” as a guide in assigning fault.

Your car will also be inspected by the claims adjuster, and the amount of damage will be determined. Alternately, you may be able to get estimates for the damage from a local auto body shop. If you have major damage, the insurance company usually pays the lesser of either the cost to repair the vehicle or the vehicle’s actual cash value. Actual cash value is the cost of replacing the car with a comparable model.

The insurer will also review any claim for injuries to persons involved in the accident. In addition, the insurer may ask you to have your employer verify your income and ask you to have a medical exam. The insurer will use this information to determine what coverage you have under your insurance policy for medical care and income replacement.

When you have an auto insurance accident claim, you may have to fill out forms, ask and answer a lot of questions and have a little patience. Still, you will be glad that you had auto insurance.