Insurance: How to deal with a car accident insurance claim

Insurance: How to deal with a car accident insurance claim
By John Grant Car accidents are the most common claims on an insurance company, and it will be pretty unusual if you go through life without going through the car-claim process. On average over a lifetime of driving you can expect to lodge four claims, and one of these will be for a more serious accident. Of course not all events are your fault; some claims could result from damage caused to your car while it is parked. Obviously, the first thing you need to do is report the incident to your insurance company. This is best done either in person or over the telephone. (If you have a broker, call them - they may have some other options on how to proceed with a claim.) Emailing is ok, but not ideal. You (and they) will get off to a better start by talking to their claims people and getting a clear idea of what you are to do next. Don't try to text your insurer - this is no way to deal with such a matter. And remember, do it promptly after the incident - most policies have a time limit in which notification is required. Besides, you will need to document what happened and that is best done while it is fresh in your memory. They will check your policy to confirm that cover applies on the vehicle and make arrangements for you to complete a claim form. For smaller claims like broken windscreens, windows or damaged lights, a claim form may not be required. They will also review with you the repairs needed, and normally agree with you who the repairer will be. For more serious incidents, however, they will probably want their expert claims assessor to see the car and agree with a repairer on the expected costs to do the fix-up work. This is normally always done at the repairer's premises. If the car needs towing, the insurance company will organise this and direct where it is to go. Completing the claim form will require both the driver and the owner to complete their respective sections. Take your time and make sure you provide all information. Be accurate and truthful in your responses. Any attempt to mislead the company can be grounds to deny your claim. Expect to answer questions on what you had been drinking prior to the accident. It is not uncommon for an insurer, particularly when there is a suggestion that alcohol could have been a factor, to seek independent verification of your statements in the claim form. Some policies can be voided if you are driving under the influence, regardless of whether the police have charged you or not. But being honest in your responses is still critically important, as your future access to insurance at a reasonable cost can be jeopardised if you are found not to have been honest. The insurance company will want to know the full particulars of the other party. If they were at fault it can be very important for you to have this. If they are uninsured and you provide their full information, name, address, drivers license number, registration number, etc., then this could mean that you are not penalised in the form of loss of your no-claims-bonus status or paying an excess. Getting these details at the time of the accident, and the names of witnesses and other people in their car, can be financially very important. It is a great idea to take photographs. Take them of everything including the other vehicle, and if you can, include in the photo a picture of the driver. Don't ever admit liability on the scene or to the other party, as it is a condition of your insurance policy that you don't make any such admission. The rights and wrongs of the accident will be judged by the details that are reported to the insurers of all parties to the accident, and you want your insurer to pay your claim. Admitting liability can jeopardise that. ('Not admitting liability' is different from 'answering truthfully' to your insurance company and the police. You can and should do both.) Finally, when your claim is approved, your car will be repaired to a condition equal to what it was in prior to the accident. If you are in any way not happy that the repair does this, raise it with the company so they can investigate and correct it. Some policies provide a lifetime guarantee on the repairs. But you cannot expect insurance repairs to remedy faults that existed before the accident. And, be prepared to pay any excess that may apply to the repairer before you collect your car from them. You will know what that amount is from when the claim was approved before repairs started. Have you had a car accident recently and made an insurance claim? What was your experience with your insurer?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.