5 Steps to Properly Filing an Insurance Claim Following a Car Accident

Filing Insurance Claim After Car Accident

How to make sure you’re following the correct procedure after an auto accident

Being involved in a car accident can be a scary experience.

If you're involved in a motor vehicle accident, it's very important that you contact your insurance company — once you make sure that you're safe and sound, of course. When it comes to completing the insurance claim, figuring out deductibles, calculating percentages and peering at the fine print, you'll want to have as much help as possible. Make sure to take the following steps after a car accident.

1. Get medical attention

The number of people who think they're fine immediately after an accident and then feel intense pain a day later is far too many to count.

This not only detriments a legal case, but it also slows down your physical recovery. Getting to a doctor right after an accident ensures that bones are properly set and any other injuries are identified. They will also be documented for your insurance company for when your claim is processed, which will streamline your approval.

2. Contact your insurance company

Once your injuries have been treated, you'll want to contact your insurance company representative in order to report the accident.

Your representative will ask you a number of questions and will likely send you documents to fill out. Any information you have (see number 3, below) will be given to the representative in order to process your claim. Make sure to review your coverage and exclusions to make sure you won't be facing any surprises. Most importantly, keep detailed notes of your phone conversations, including names, dates, times and titles of the people you speak with.

Make sure to be honest and forthcoming with your insurance provider. Even if it's embarrassing, it's better to present all the facts to your insurer. Failing to be honest with your insurance company might be a cause for denial of coverage.

It's important to understand the difference between actual cash value and replacement coverage. Don't give any written or recorded statements to your insurance representative until you're sure you understand your coverage. Keep in mind that you're not obligated to allow the insurance provider to record your phone conversation. When in doubt, talk to a lawyer.

Also, don't automatically accept the appraisal or estimate of your losses provided to you by your insurance representative. They represent you, yes, but they also represent themselves, and they're trying to make money.

3. Take pictures / write down everything

If you can (and if you can't, have a friend or relative do it), write down or take pictures of everything regarding the accident scene and the cars involved in the accident. Take pictures or video of your injuries and the damage to your respective vehicles. These photos or video will be valuable to your case if you have trouble receiving a favorable response from the insurance company or if you want to hire a car accident lawyer. Cuts, scrapes and bruises heal quickly, so having photos of the injury is a smart decision. If you don't have a regular digital camera, use your cell phone to snap a few pictures.

A post-accident journal like this one can help keep all your thoughts in one place.

4. Write down expenses related to your claim

Car accidents are devastating, and you will likely encounter financial difficulties because of your accident. It's possible you may incur many expenses during the time your insurance claim is processing. It's very important that you keep a good record of expenses in case you need to file a lawsuit. Keep a notebook or an Excel spreadsheet and make a receipt of expenses related to your claim.

  • medical care and supplies
  • expenses for rental vehicle or alternate transportation
  • expenses paid by relatives who had to help you

See this list of 30 documents and pieces of evidence that can help your personal injury or accident claim.

5. Speak with an attorney

Do not sign any documents that you don't understand. Get representation to ensure that your rights are protected. Hiring a personal injury attorney is the best way to deal with accidents -- you don't know if an accident is serious or not. You don't know if you're at fault. How are you supposed to know these things without an attorney? (See When Do I Need a Lawyer?)

A competent motor vehicle accident attorney will fight for you to make sure that you get the best settlement for your insurance claim. Check out the Enjuris personal injury lawyer directory today!

Free personal injury guides for download to print or save. View all downloads.

Tell your story:
Tell your story - What would you want others to know? Tell us what happened in your accident, and how life has changed for you.

Find an attorney:
Search our directory for personal injury law firms.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.