How Do Car Insurance Claims Work? Your Guide to the Claims Process.

Feb 25, 2022 2 min read

What You Need to File a Car Insurance Claim

When making an insurance claim on your car it’s important to have the right information and documentation at hand. Here’s what we recommend as you start the claims process.

  1. File a Police Report – Even if it’s a small parking lot fender bender, it’s a good idea to call the non-emergency number to have an officer dispatched to document the situation to create an accident report. This will be helpful as your insurance company will ask for the report number. Don’t worry if you forgot to call someone from the accident but contact the appropriate law enforcement agency as soon as possible to file one.
  2. Take Photos – Document the situation by capturing photos of the damages to all vehicles along with any additional photos that are relevant, such as the location, obstructions to visibility, traffic controls, etc.
  3. Exchange Information – It’s important to get the other vehicle owner and driver name, contact information, insurance provider and their policy number. If there are witnesses to the accident, ask for their information as well. 

How to File an Insurance Claim for a Car Accident

Follow these steps when making an insurance claim.

  1. Call Your Insurance Provider – One of the first things you should do after an accident is call your insurance provider, regardless of whether the accident is minor or severe. By calling your provider you can discuss what coverage is provided under your auto insurance policy.
  2. Find Out What Your Insurer Needs – While you have your provider on the phone, it’s a good idea to ask what they need to proceed with the claims process.
  3. Clarify Deadlines – As you discuss the claims process with your insurance company, make sure to ask what deadlines you need to know of, such as filing a claim within a certain time period or when you should hear back from your Claims department.
  4. Fill Out Paperwork – After your call with your provider, fill out any paperwork they asked for and return it by the deadline they provided. 

What Does an Insurance Claim Cover?

Depending on what sort of auto insurance you have, your coverages can vary. 

Liability Coverage

Liability insurance provides coverage when you cause damage to another person’s property or injury to another person with your car. Keep in mind, this coverage doesn’t pay for the damage to your car or your own personal injuries. 

Collision Coverage

This coverage covers the cost of repairs to your car resulting from a collision with another vehicle or other object. 

Comprehensive Coverage

With comprehensive coverage, your car is protected if something other than a collision caused damage. This can include things like a fire, theft, hail, vandalism, animal and more. 

Medical or No-Fault Coverage

This differs based on your state, but medical expenses can be partially or completely covered depending on your specific policy coverage and dollar limit. 

Uninsured and Underinsured

This coverage can protect you when the other driver involved in the collision doesn’t have adequate car insurance. This protects you and your passengers if physical injury is caused by the uninsured or underinsured driver.


What to Expect After You File a Car Insurance Claim

After you file your claim, keep in mind you will have to pay your deductible which will be subtracted from the total amount for repairs. Car insurance companies pay out claims either to the policy holder, or they may pay the auto repair shop directly.  If you have a loan on your vehicle, they may require the payment include that bank.

If your car is totaled, the insurance company will pay what the car’s cash value was, minus the deductible on your policy. Keep in mind, after an accident it’s possible your car insurance rate may increase, and is based upon several things that may include whether you were found to be at fault and the payment amount for damages. 


Check Your Coverage

If you have questions about your auto insurance coverage, or want to explore your auto coverage options, connect with a local Farm Bureau agent.

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.