Insurance Claims

Steps to Take Before Contacting Auto Insurance and Filing a Claim

Getting into an auto accident is no fun. With the heart racing and nerves on end, it becomes difficult to remember exactly what to do and what types of information to collect before contacting the auto insurance and filing an auto claim.

Tips for Being Prepared for an Auto Accident

Though drivers may not get into an auto accident or find a fallen tree crushing their auto every day, they should still take the following measures to be prepared should they find their car damaged:

  • Keep an auto insurance information card in both the glove compartment and your wallet.
  • Keep a copy of the Auto Accident Hot Sheet Checklist below in the glove compartment.
  • Keep two pens and a pad of paper in the glove compartment.
  • Call the police if necessary to determine fault.
  • Document everything.

Getting in an auto accident or finding a tree on one’s auto is no fun. That’s why learning about auto insurance claims, how to file an auto claim, and how to be prepared for that day is important so the driver knows exactly what steps to take.

Auto Accident Hot Sheet Checklist: Steps to Take in the Event of an Auto Accident

  1. Take a Moment to Calm Down. When the accident has just occurred, sit for a minute or so and take a couple of deep breaths.
  2. Determine Damage and/or Injuries. Calmly step out of the car to inspect for damage and/or injuries. If it appears that injuries may require medical attention, call 911 immediately.
  3. Determine Location. Look up at the street signs and determine the location of the auto accident. Write down the location and the nearest major intersection.
  4. Obtain Auto Insurance and Contact Information. After inspecting the auto for damage and ensuring all parties are uninjured, exchange auto insurance and personal contact information.
  5. Collect Vehicle Information. Write down the make and model of the car. Also write down the license plate number and vehicle identification number (VIN) located on the bottom of the driver’s side windshield.
  6. Do Not Discuss Auto Accident. Unless the auto accident is minor or fault is obvious, avoid discussing fault with the other driver. Discussions regarding the auto accident should be kept between the driver and the auto insurance, or the driver and police officer if the police are called to the scene.
  7. Contact the Police. Unless the accident is minor, it may be a good idea to contact the police. A police officer will arrive on the scene of the auto accident, hear both sides, and file a legal accident report. This accident report could come in handy for determination of fault at a later date.
  8. Take Pictures. Using a mobile phone or digital camera, snap pictures of the auto accident scene from various angles. This could help determine fault at a later date, and could aid in the auto claims process.
  9. File Auto Insurance Claim. As soon as possible, contact auto insurance to file a claim. Typically this is done by phone. The driver can even file the claim at the scene of the accident; and if a police officer is present, the officer can speak to the auto insurance agent as well and clarify if necessary.

Drivers are supposed to feel safe in their cars, so it’s a major shock to hear the dreaded “thud,” the crumple of metal, and to see their car smoking. That’s why it’s important to be prepared so the driver knows exactly what steps to take in the unfortunate case of an auto accident.

What Is an Auto Insurance Claim?

An auto insurance claim is a communication between driver and auto insurance that damage to the driver’s vehicle has occurred, typically as the result of an auto accident. However, an auto accident isn’t the only scenario where the driver files a claim with his or her auto insurance company.

Auto damage via natural disasters, theft, cracked windshields, hail damage, fallen trees, struck animals, and vandalism are also instances in which the driver must contact his or her auto insurance to file a claim.

How is an Auto Insurance Claim Filed?

An auto insurance claim is usually filed by contacting the driver’s auto insurance by phone. However, some auto insurance companies allow drivers to file auto claims on the web, depending on the nature and complexity of the claim.

Essentially the steps to filing an auto insurance claim are as follows:

  1. Determine whether to file a claim. Auto insurance keeps a record of claims and accidents and it may affect the driver’s auto insurance rates regardless of fault. If the damage is minor or can be easily and cheaply repaired, contacting auto insurance to file a claim may be financially disadvantageous.
  2. Exchange auto insurance information and personal contact info with the other driver.
  3. Call the police. If there is a dispute as to who is at fault in the auto accident, call the police and state the location of the accident. A police officer will arrive on the scene of the auto accident, hear both sides, and file a legal accident report.
  4. File the auto insurance claim. Whether or not the accident is the fault of the driver, the auto insurance company should be notified immediately that an accident has taken place. This way, the auto insurance can help the driver through the claims process.
  5. Document the auto accident. Although the claim has been filed with the driver’s auto insurance company, it’s a very good idea to document the auto accident in detail. This way, the driver is prepared should the other party’s car insurance company contact the driver to corroborate the details of the auto accident.

What should you expect to pay?

We have two different types of customers who come into Auto Collision Craftsmen, Gaithersburg, Maryland. One type of customer has car insurance that can be applied to auto body shops. The other type of customer pays out of pocket for collision repair and auto body painting. No matter which type of customer you are, we are happy to assist you and give you the best body shop experience possible.

The Insurance Claim

An automobile policy has a fixed amount for the deductable, which the person filing a claim is required to pay to get their auto repaired and painted. Each policy is based on your vehicles and the amount of insurance you agreed upon in your insurance policy. If you are unclear or confused about your deductable, contact your insurance agent. He or she should be able to answer any questions and address any concerns.

Expect to pay your deductable amount when your vehicle has been repaired and is ready for pick-up. There are no upfront costs associated with us starting your auto collision repair work.

Out-of-Pocket Pricing

Due to the high cost of insurance, most people choose to pay cash for minor accidents that are their fault. This can be for one of their own vehicles or for someone else’s vehicle.

The advantage of going this route is that you keep insurance claims to a minimum. Most people don’t realize that filing a claim goes on one’s insurance record. And, to most people’s surprise, the insurance company may raise their rates to recoup the money paid out for past claims.

On the other hand, insurance companies periodically evaluate policy holders to determine the risk factor and adjust their rates. So, either way, you lose. The only way to make sure that your rates stay as low as possible is by paying the out-of-pocket claims, if you can afford to do so. Most parents who have teenage drivers included on their family policy choose to go this route for minor auto collisions, and save the insurance claims for major accidents.

One last thing to keep in mind is, if you have damaged someone else’s car or truck, he or she may expect you to pay for a car rental. In most cases, this is not an unreasonable request. After all, you did cause the accident, and the man or woman may be without a vehicle while it is receiving collision repair, dent repair, auto paint repair, or whatever it needs.

We offer a discount on our labor rate for all out-of-pocket claims. Expect to pay for any needed auto parts at the time of drop-off. The balance will be due at the time of pick-up.

Rental Cars

Before renting a car, check with your insurance agent to see whether car rental is going to be covered by your insurance company. Once you get past that conversation, may we suggest trying Enterprise. They have good rates, and they offer free pick-up, depending on your location and time of day. One way or another, you will be back behind the wheel in no time.

18540 Woodfield Road
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20879
Phone: 301-948-8188
Fax: 301-869-3631