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

UPDATED: Oct 14, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • Almost all states require drivers to carry proof of insurance
  • You must carry your ID card at all times
  • Always check with your state for the minimum insurance requirements

Car accidents are a common event and odds are you will be involved in some kind of car accident in your lifetime.

For most people, it’s a fender bender or parking lot accident but no matter what the situation is you should know how to file a car insurance claim before it happens.

Before writing your first car insurance premium check you really should take the time to read your car insurance policy and understand what is and what is not covered.

Take notes of coverage for rental car reimbursement and collision/comprehensive coverage especially since these types of car insurance coverage affect your transportation and finances.

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State Requirements

Almost all states require drivers to carry proof of insurance while operating a vehicle and your car insurance ID card is very important when it comes to a car accident.

Not only does it satisfy the need for proof of insurance at the scene of an accident but it also usually contains important information including a toll-free number to contact your car insurance company.

The car insurance ID card is the first thing people look for in a car accident. Make sure its close and when in doubt – always program your car insurance company phone number in your cell phone.

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How to Make Filing a Car Insurance Claim Easier

Before a car accident happens please understand your coverage. Read your policy and know about your types of coverage – quoting how much you pay every month is not the equivalent of understanding car insurance.

If you have questions call your insurance agent. A 5 or 10-minute phone call can usually explain your entire auto insurance policy.

Take Notes

Not only take notes of any damage to your car but also to the other person’s vehicle. You will be surprised how many people change their stories once they leave the scene of an accident so try to make a mental or written list of all the damage you see.

If anyone is injured focus on getting the appropriate medical help to the scene as soon as you can.

Never trust anybody to send you their car insurance information in the mail. Ask for a valid proof of car insurance and the person’s driver license and phone number.

If they refuse to give the information call the authorities right away. If there are any witnesses try to ask them for their phone numbers and co-operation should your car insurance company need to contact them.

Check Your Payment

Car insurance companies are obligated to cover you for all damages insured by your policy but many times consumers report a lower than expected settlement or an initial dispute over repair costs.

You do not have to take the first settlement or first repair. In fact, an entire industry of insurance adjusters operates independently with a primary goal of helping drivers get the most money from existing policy coverage.

Should you feel unhappy with the initial claim results then talk about dispute options or contact an attorney for advice if the discrepancy is large enough to justify the cost.

The actual process of filing a claim will vary from one car insurance company to the next but essentially it’s all about having as much detailed information you can about the car accident and knowledge of your own policy coverage.

Car accidents are never fun but if you are even semi-prepared before a car accident happens it will certainly help the process be a less stressful event.

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  1. https://www.geico.com/claims/claimsprocess/vehicle-rental/
  2. https://www.statefarm.com/insurance/auto/coverage-options
  3. https://www.geico.com/information/proof-of-insurance/
  4. https://www.nationwide.com/auto-insurance-claims.jsp