After an Accident: Understanding the Claims Process

Updated on August 28, 2020

After an Accident: Understanding the Claims Process

Being involved in a car accident can be a scary and stressful experience. The claims process following the accident can be just as complex and anxiety-inducing. For the most part, we know that we must file a claim, but what does the process look like exactly? Continue on to learn more about the claims process and the proper measures one should make following an accident.

What Should I Do At The Scene Of The Accident?

The 24 hour time window following the accident is an important one. At the scene of the car crash, do not accept guilt or put the blame on the other driver. The insurance company will help figure that out for you later. If there are injuries, contact law enforcement. Police officers will create a police report that can later be handed over for your insurance accident claim. A few other things you should do at the scene or day of the accident are:

  • Take photos. Take photos of the license plates of the drivers involved, any damages on their and your vehicles, the position each vehicle had been traveling, road and weather conditions, exact location of the accident, and any surrounding traffic signs.
  • Get contact information. Give the other drivers involved your name and car insurance company and get a copy of the opposing drivers’ insurance and contact information. If there were any witnesses to the accident, kindly ask for their names and contact information, as well. If a police officer is at the scene, request their name and badge number. 
  • Capture vehicle details. Such as the year, make, model, and color of the car. 
  • Notify insurer. In California, drivers should notify their own auto insurer of the accident, even if they are not at fault. 
  • Notify DMV. While the DMV does not have to be notified within a 24 hour time period, they should be notified within 10 days of the accident, if anyone was killed or injured OR the accident leads to over $750 in property damage. 

What Happens After I File A Claim With My Insurance Company? 

If you were not at fault for the accident, you should still contact your auto insurer to provide information about the accident and any injuries you may have. After your claim has been filed and your accident has been reported to your insurance company, it becomes a slight waiting game. During this “waiting” time, the insurance company will begin to investigate your claim. At this time, you may provide your photos of the accident scene, any contact information you gathered, and any additional information. You may be asked to submit a claim form, also referred to as a Proof of Loss form.

Further, you will likely be asked to submit a medical examination, if you are claiming to have suffered an injury. If you are claiming property damage, the claims adjuster may inspect the property in question. The claims adjuster is assigned to your file to go through, investigate your claim, and determine the extent to which the insurance policy covers your claim. Sometimes, your adjuster may ask to meet in person. However, cases are generally handled over the phone. Your claims adjuster is there to answer any questions or clarify any misconceptions you may have throughout this process. Ultimately, the adjuster is in charge of determining who is at fault for the accident, whether partially or fully. From there, your insurer and the other driver’s insurance company will work together to determine how expenses will be divided and paid out.  

The insurance claims process can be a tricky matrix to navigate. Get experienced guidance from the car accident lawyer King to help you through your insurance claims process. 

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