Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Sep 26, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you are involved in an auto accident, the claims process for the auto insurance company begins at the scene of the auto accident
  • There are two types of damage involved in an auto accident: vehicular damage and personal injuries
  • When you submit a claim to your insurance company or the other driver’s provider, make sure that you have as much detailed information as possible
  • The claims process ends when you receive a check from the auto insurance company for the cost of your damages
  • If you are not able to resolve your auto accident claim, you may need to speak with an attorney to handle the process with the auto insurance company

Being involved in a car accident can be a scary and frustrating experience. If you are injured in an auto accident or your vehicle is damaged, you may file a claim for the damage through your auto insurance company.

If the accident was caused by another driver, then you may file the claim through the other driver’s auto insurance company. The auto insurance company will determine the extent of the damage to you and/or your vehicle and offer you a settlement for the claim in the form of a check.

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Filing a Claim After an Auto Accident


If you are involved in an auto accident, you will likely file a claim through your auto insurance policy or that of the other driver’s, depending on who was at fault for the accident.

While you are still at the scene of the auto accident, there is some important information that you should gather if you are able. The police may also gather some of this information if they are called to the accident.

If you can, make sure that you include the vehicle information about the cars involved in the auto accident, the name and contact information of the other driver, the exact location of the accident, auto insurance information on the other driver and any towing information.

If there are any witnesses to the auto accident, try to get their contact information so that they can be reached in case additional information is needed by the auto insurance company to evaluate your claim.

This information should be included in any demand letter that you send to the auto insurance regarding your claim.

If you also suffered any physical injuries in the auto accident, you need to retain copies of all records related to your medical bills and expenses. This also includes any out of pocket expenses that you have to pay in recovering from the injuries.

Of course, your first priority after being injured in an auto accident is to recover and heal as quickly as possible. However, it is important to make sure that you timely file all claim information to your auto insurance company within the appropriate time frame after the auto accident occurred.

In some states and under some auto insurance policies, if you do not file your claim after an accident within a certain period of time, you may not be allowed to recover for that claim.

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How the Auto Insurance Company Values the Damage for a Claim After an Auto Accident

After the auto insurance company determines that you will be covered for the accident claim, they will assign a claims adjuster to your claim to evaluate the total damage.

If you have damage to your vehicle, the claims adjuster may collect reasonable estimates about the cost of your repairs. If the total damage to your car exceeds a certain percentage of its value, the auto insurance company may declare your car a total loss.

If your car is determined to be a total loss, then the auto insurance company will write you a check for the value of your car.

If you disagree with the auto insurance company’s analysis of your claim and damage, you can submit additional evidence or estimates to them in order to either get a higher settlement amount for your claim or to have your car declared totaled if you do not want to continue to drive it after receiving a check for the necessary repairs.

If you are personally injured in an auto accident, then you will need to submit your medical expenses to the auto insurance company. You are eligible to be compensated for your medical bills, lost income, pain, and suffering.

When the Settlement Process Does Not Go Your Way


While you may think that the damages after your auto accident are clear cut, it is possible that your auto insurance company will not see it that way. Even though every auto insurance is required to negotiate the settlement of a claim in good faith, this does not mean that it will always go your way.

This is why it is crucial to consider the reputation of the auto insurance company when you are shopping around for quotes on a policy.

First of all, the auto insurance company must be licensed to sell auto insurance in your state. It should also have a good reputation among your friends and family when it comes to customer service and handling a claim.

The first step in getting the claims process on the right track for you is to follow all of the requirements in your auto insurance policy in terms of reporting a claim and following up with the necessary information to process it and evaluate your damages.

Then, you should express your concern in writing with the auto insurance company if the settlement is not going as planned.

Your ultimate option is to contact an attorney who is experienced in helping to negotiate claims for an auto accident. If you were personally injured in the accident, this is even a stronger reason to involve a lawyer in the settlement.

Remember, the auto insurance claims process can be frustrating and time-consuming. It is important to keep a copy of all communications for your records and to clearly document the evidence for your claim.

If you are not able to successfully negotiate a settlement with your auto insurance company, you may end up needing to retain an attorney who is experienced in negotiating with auto insurance claims.

Some auto insurance companies have better reputations than others when it comes to customer service and handling the entire claims process from an accident.

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