What Happens When You File an Auto Insurance Claim?
Most car owners know that if you get into an accident you need to make a report and file a claim with your auto insurance company. While every company’s claim handling and procedures are different, for the most part, the process of filing a claim is the same across the board. Here are some tips and some insight into what you can expect if you ever have to file a claim with your Massachusetts auto insurance company.
Even if you have never been through an auto accident you can probably appreciate what a difficult experience it can be. The most important thing to remember is to keep a cool head. If no one has been injured you need to realize that it’s just a car accident. Thousands of them happen each and every day. The property that has been damaged can be fixed or replaced. You have car insurance just for this purpose.
You need to write down or remember everything that happened. This is a very important step. What was the weather like? What were the road conditions? Were there any traffic signal malfunctions? What time of day was it? All of this will be very helpful when it comes time to fill out the information required in your auto insurance claim. Your auto insurance company can help you to verify the information you provide against the information reported in the official police report and the information provided by any other parties who were involved. Your agency (hopefully Borden Insurance Agency if you’re in New Bedford or surrounding communities) will help facilitate your claim process and be there to oversee and help correct errors or an oversite that sometime occur during the claim process or settlement. Be sure to call your insurance company or agent if you question a particular decision that has been made in the claim process or if you want to know the status of your claim.
Your car insurance company will need as much documentation as possible when you file a claim, so make sure to write down the names, addresses and contact information for all the people who were involved in the accident. Additional contacts for witnesses can also be extemely beneficial, especially if you feel you were not at fault in the accident.
On your end, you may want to have an insurance card or proof of insurance with you in the car if you travel outside of Massachusetts. Proof of automobile insurance is part of your registration for Massachusetts’ residents so nothing else is required for your to carry while in Massachusetts. For travel in other states it is recommended that you carry information regarding the type of coverage, time period of valid coverage and other identification information be included in your insurance card.
When you fill out forms during the claims process, make sure to fill them out as accurate as possible, even double-checking the spelling of street names, witnesses, the make/model of the vehicles involved, etc. Cross reference your information with the police report and any other documentation to ensure that you have everything written down correctly. The more accurate you are, the faster your claim will be processed.
After you file a claim with your Massachusetts insurance company, an auto insurance claim appraiser who may work independently or directly for the wcompany will visit you to assess the damages and give an estimate of the costs associated with the required repairs.
If the damages exceed the value of the vehicle, the vehicle will be declared a “total loss” and the insurance company will pay you the value of the vehicle so you can replace it. The amount that you receive for repair or replacement will be based upon actual cash value in most cases. For total losses a combination of book values and recent local sales of the same year, make and model car, may be used. Your auto insurance company will either pay the repair service or garage directly, or will send you a check for the repairs, depending on your policy and the type of work that needs to be done. For collision claims, the deductible you chose may be applied if you were at fault in a collision or the responsible driver and vehicle cannot be identified.
The job of a claim adjuster is only to assess the damages. If you have a dispute with anything regarding your claim, you need to contact your auto insurance company direct or your agent. It is important to remember that the claim adjuster is there to do a job as a part of the larger process, and that the more accurate information you provide throughout the claims stage, the smoother it will all go and the faster you will get back on the road.