How do I file a car insurance claim?

Most car insurance companies offer several ways to file claims, including (1) in person, (2) online, (3) over the phone, and (4) through the mail.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

Full Bio →

Written by

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Apr 28, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single company.

Our partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from top car companies please enter your ZIP code above to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Here's what you need to know...

  • You pay a monthly car insurance premium so that if you need to file a claim, you will be covered
  • If you disagree with your insurance provider’s decision regarding a claim, you can appeal it
  • You have the options of filing a claim in person, over the phone, online, or by mail

What are the steps to filing a car insurance claim?

The whole point of car insurance is to follow the law and to have a solution if you are in a car accident or damage is done to your vehicle. Some people complain that car insurance is a waste of money, but it is necessary and can actually save you money in the long run.

Replacing or repairing a vehicle is costly. Having the proper car insurance can protect you from losing your vehicle and your money. Because of this, it is important to know how to file a car insurance claim when the need arises.

Read on to learn how to file an auto insurance claim and then enter your ZIP above to compare quotes and find the cheapest car insurance rates!

How Car Insurance Claims Work

A car insurance claim is basically a request to the insurance company for payment. The monthly premium that you pay is to ensure that when you need your car replaced or repaired, the insurance will cover the expenses.

When you need it, you claim your money from the insurance company and the insurance company pays your claim. However, there are some important things to take note of concerning car insurance claims.

Filing a claim doesn’t automatically mean that the claim will be met. The insurance company reviews the claim and decides if they will pay it or deny it.

This is based on many factors. First of all, what does your policy cover? There are many different types of policies. Liability is mandatory in most states, but the other most common types are comprehensive and collision and they are optional.

A comprehensive policy will cover just about any damage to your vehicle caused by:

  • You
  • Another driver
  • A natural disaster
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Weather

A collision policy will only cover a collision with another vehicle or object.

Some policies, depending on the where you live, will determine what is paid based on who caused the accident. If you have a loan on your vehicle, the lender will require collision and/or comprehensive coverage.

After determining if your policy covers your claim, the company will look at the claim itself. They will determine if your car can be repaired or if it is a total loss which means they will provide the replacement value of the vehicle.

This is can be determined through a few different avenues:

  • One of the company’s insurance inspectors could come to your vehicle.
  • A mechanic could evaluate the cost to repair.
  • The police report could indicate intensive damage to the vehicle.

After deciding the best course of action for your vehicle, the insurance company will pay your claim or make an adjustment to your claim for more or less money.

You have the right to agree or disagree with their decision. If you disagree, you will have to provide some reasons and in some cases documentation to back up why you are appealing.

Some insurance companies will routinely deny the first claim sent through as part of their policy, so don’t get discouraged. If you think the insurance company’s determination is wrong, appeal the decision.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

How do I File a Car Insurance Claim?

Being aware of how a claim works is important, but how exactly is a car insurance claim filed?

There are four options available through most insurance companies. However, it is important to check with your company before the need arises so you know what your options are.

  1. File in person – Most companies have local offices that you can go to with your paperwork, pictures of your vehicle, any police reports involving the vehicle, etc. You can make an appointment or just walk in and file your claim.
  2. File over the phone – Most insurance companies have phone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can call the company and follow their automated system to file your claim. In most cases it will lead you to a representative who will be able answer any questions you might have.
  3. File online – This is available anytime day or night and from any location with internet access. You can go to your company’s website, type in your claim information and your claim is filed. Some companies will follow this up with a phone call to make sure everything is in place.
  4. File through mail – If the damage to your vehicle is significant and you need an answer right away, mailing a claim is not a good option. This method will take the longest time to process.

The best way to have a good experience when filing a car insurance claim is to use a reputable provider. One way to find a reliable company that you can afford is to compare rates and companies online with an online comparison tool.

This option allows you to see rates and quotes from several companies and then choose the company that is right for you. Use the free quote tool below and do that right now!

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption