Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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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...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: May 25, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Insurance claims are requests to your insurance company for funds to pay for damages to your vehicle
  • The insurance company has the right to approve or reject claims based on their perception of events
  • A claim could be dismissed for a variety of reasons including the motorist’s payment history

A car insurance claim, by simple definition, is any request for payment under acceptable terms of a signed auto insurance policy.

The difficult part is proving to the insurance company that your situation is covered by the original terms of the contract.

The application for benefits is sent to the car insurance company who then must investigate the accident before any money can be disbursed.

To learn all about auto insurance claims continue reading below, and then enter your ZIP above for a FREE car insurance comparison!

Table of Contents

How the Insurance Company Approaches the Case

In exchange for the right to make a claim, the insured consumer pays regular monthly or yearly premiums to the insurance company.

The premiums you pay will later be used to settle another driver’s insurance claim, as well as to increase the overall assets of the insurance company.

Naturally, the insurance company is banking on you avoiding any and all incidents.

When there is a collision, or an act of vandalism, or property damage, then the insured has a right to file such a claim in order to receive back those premiums and more, depending on how much damage has been done.

The insurance company will open up the car insurance claim and send a local representative to investigate the car’s damage or ask for photos of the damage through email.

The agent assigned to the case will be responsible for negotiating the payment with the insured and the insurance provider.

The car owner is not the only person who can file the claim. Sometimes an auto repair shop has the right to file a claim on behalf of a car owner.

However, because the cost of repairs eventually affects the price of the premium, not all policyholders report minor incidents that could be easily fixed without involving the insurance company.

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The Relationship between You and the Claims Adjuster

The representative that handles these issues is called a claims adjuster or a claim’s appraiser.

The insurance adjuster evaluates the claim and determines whether or not the estimates are fair.

You should be aware that a police officer will not always deem it necessary to fill out a police report.

Even if the officer does not want to fill out a traffic report, ask him to fill out an incident report. Any statement from a police officer will be worthwhile in your case.

Ideally, you want an independent and even disinterested party to give a version of the story.

An insurance company could dismiss a claim for a wide variety of reasons:

  • Perhaps the motorist hasn’t been making regular premium payments
  • Perhaps a submitted claim doesn’t fall under the original terms of the contract
  • Perhaps the evidence shows that only one party is responsible for damages

Are There Different Kinds of Car Insurance Claims?

A policyholder will have to file a claim for things other than just accidents.

Any type of damage to their car that they want the insurance company to pay for will require a claim to be filed.

Other types of claims include broken windshield, stolen car, and vandalism claims.

Some providers have a better reputation for handling claims better than others.

To see consumer ratings for your provider, go to the website for J.D. Power and Associates or the Better Business Bureau.

Tips for Filing a Successful Auto Insurance Claim

  • Never hesitate to file a claim. Do it within one day if at all possible
  • Never hesitate to call a policeman to the scene of the accident. A police report is a much more convincing piece of evidence to add to the claim
  • When you receive a call from the other person’s insurance company, try to have a statement written down in advance
  • Before fixing your car, wait for the paying insurance company to send out an agent to evaluate the vehicle

If there is a dispute over either an unpaid claim or an underpaid claim, you have the option to contact the disputes department or hire a lawyer, if the damage merits such a drastic step.

Though no one particularly likes the idea of dealing with an insurance company, they are the ones giving us the financial freedom to drive!

Use our FREE tool right now to find an affordable full coverage car insurance policy. Just enter your ZIP code below!