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: Aug 6, 2021

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Key takeaways...

  • Acquire all the necessary information to report the accident accurately
  • Make sure that your claim is reported to the other driver’s insurance company
  • Consider purchasing uninsured/underinsured auto insurance to help cover the other person’s lack of coverage

Filing a claim on an auto insurance policy should be fairly straightforward. The driver calls their auto insurance company, reports the accident and loss, and then waits for the investigation and claim process to be completed.

What happens, however, when another driver crashes into your vehicle?

If the driver carries sufficient auto liability insurance, you would simply need to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance.

This is called a third-party claim since you’re the third-party to the other driver and their insurance company. Their insurer will process the claim and investigate the accident to determine that their policyholder was at fault before making a payment.

Looking to make sure your car is sufficiently covered? Enter your ZIP code above and compare at least three to four policies today!

What are the appropriate steps after an accident?


Compiling basic facts and information about the accident becomes necessary to file a claim effectively. You will need:

  • The name of the driver
  • Their insurance company’s name
  • The policy number

It would also be helpful for you to collect other common items suggested after an accident occurs such as:

  • Witnesses’ contact information
  • Photographs of the accident
  • police report

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How to speak with the insurance company


The idea of filing a claim with another party’s insurance company may seem daunting, but it shouldn’t be. The insurance company takes in a lot of third-party claims. Calling in a claim should be a relatively basic process.

When you’re involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you should file a claim with the other driver’s insurer to help pay for repairs to your car, transportation while your car is being repaired, and related medical expenses.

Insurance companies determine fault based on state laws and details about the accident. However, depending on how the accident happened, you might be partially at fault, so it’s best to check with your own insurance company first on any claim.

Once you report the claim, an investigation by an insurance adjuster will likely be the next step.

The adjuster’s ultimate job is to determine how much the settlement is worth, and in virtually every case, the adjuster will require proof of any claims you make regarding the severity of the accident and potential injuries involved.

Someone asking for medical bill reimbursements, for example, will be required to present receipts and records proving that the injuries were a direct result of the car accident.

The same would be true of damage and repairs to a vehicle.

How to avoid any delays


It is in your best interest to file your claim promptly without much delay. Delays increase the chances of the claim being denied.

Quickly filing the claim does not mean being sloppy, so you need to be sure everything is in order when the time comes to file a claim.

All information needs to be meticulously presented in order to submit the claim without errors.

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How to contact your own insurance company

If the claim is being filed against the other party’s insurance company, why should you place a call to your own company?

Even though your insurance company may not be directly involved in the process, they are likely to be a decent source of advice concerning the overall process. Insurance claims are not that simple, so you’ll need an expert in the field to fix the problem.

The customer service or claims representative you speak to can describe the process so that you understand it clearly.

Depending on the policy, a customer may be required to inform their insurance company that they were injured even when another driver is at fault.

Always make sure you understand the requirements associated with your insurance policy so that you respond appropriately after an accident.

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How to retain an attorney

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In the aftermath of a serious accident, contacting an attorney might be in your best interest.

Civil litigation may focus on personal injury protection, property damage, or both. A wrongful death could also factor into a civil suit if someone died during the accident.

Legal representation may be beneficial in such complicated situations.

Hiring an attorney costs money, and the payment may come out of the settlement.

Rather than fretting over attorney fees, think about the expertise you’d be gaining in the process and weigh the pros and cons to determine whether you truly need an attorney.

Should you get an uninsured motorist coverage?


If the driver you’re filing the insurance claim against is not carrying enough insurance — or any insurance at all — you are in an entirely different situation as you cannot file a claim.

Hiring an attorney may be unavoidable in this situation since suing the driver in court would be the only way for you to collect restitution. And that is only if money is available to be collected.

If the negligent driver has little or no assets, then a lawsuit might not do you much good.

The person’s financial situation may change in the future and would be subject to a lien, but that’s still not a very helpful scenario when you want results immediately.

For this reason, if you do not currently have uninsured/underinsured coverage on your policy, you may want to consider it as an option to protect you against the above scenario.

How to prepare for all scenarios

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Comparing several policy quotes to find good deals on uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, auto liability, and more is always a good idea.

Learning what to do if you’re ever the victim of an auto accident is prudent.

Being prepared includes not only how to file a third-party claim but also what the requirements are with one’s own insurance provider when you are involved in an accident.

Want to be prepared in case you face a car accident? Enter your ZIP code below and start comparison shopping today for better auto insurance rates!