How to Compare Car Insurance Quotes 2024
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How to File a Car Insurance Claim

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Content was accurate at the time of publication.

After an accident involving your car, you’ll need to file a claim with your provider to get a payout to take care of the damage. Your car insurance company will request info and documents regarding the damage done.

If the claim is approved, you’ll pay your deductible, and your insurer will pay out the remainder of the claim so you can get your repairs done.

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While your insurance company may have some special requirements unique to your accident, filing a claim usually follows these four steps:

1. Collect necessary information and documents

After the accident, get the insurance info of anyone else involved. Take photos of the damage to your vehicle.

Also, if the accident happened near any businesses, see if they have any camera footage, and see if you can get copies of it. If there are any witnesses, try to get contact info from them.

If the accident involved others, you may need to file a police report. If so, get a copy of the report or the case number. Your insurance company will request it.

2. Get an estimate

Before filing the claim, get an estimate from a certified mechanic for the cost of repairing the damage to your car.

While your insurer may send an adjuster to judge the damage and give you their own estimate, check with a mechanic first to see if it’s worth your while to file a claim at all.

When you file a claim, you’ll have to pay a deductible before your car insurance company pays out the rest. The deductible is the agreed-upon amount in your policy that you pay out of pocket after an accident.

If the repair estimate is less than your deductible, there’s no reason to file a claim. However, if the accident caused damage to another vehicle, you will need to file a claim no matter what.

Be aware of your car insurance company’s required time limit to file a claim. Many insurers simply ask you to file your claim promptly, but some may have strict time limits.

3. Contact your insurer

Connect with your car insurance company and let it know you want to file a claim.

Many providers now have apps that you can file a claim through, but if you have any questions, definitely give the company a call.

4. Arrange for a meeting with an adjuster

As noted in Step No. 2, your insurance company may send out an adjuster to assess the damage to your car.

If so, make sure to be available when they arrive. Have a copy of your documentation of the accident on hand if it’s requested.

The adjuster will assess and take notes on the damage. Your insurer will then make a decision about your claim.

If you are the owner of the damaged car and your claim is approved, your insurer will send you the payout amount by check or direct deposit, minus your deductible amount.

If you are financing the car, you will receive a check made out to you and the lender. It will need signatures from you and your lender in order to be cashed. Your lender has a direct interest in making sure the payout goes toward repairing the car.

After the repairs are made, your lender will want to see proof that the work was done to its satisfaction.

After it approves the repairs, your lender will sign the check so the repair shop can be paid.

If your car is the only one damaged, and it’s only a ding or a scratch, then you’re better off paying for the repairs yourself.

First off, if the repair bill is less than your deductible, then your claim will be denied.

Second, filing a claim usually results in a premium increase. This increase stays on your insurance record for up to seven years and could cost you a lot of money.

It may depend on your insurer’s policies and state regulations, but usually, if you own your car, then you are free to do whatever you want with the claim payout, including any money left over after repairs are done.

You do not want to inflate the repair costs when you file your claim, in hopes of getting extra cash. That’s insurance fraud, and it’s considered a felony.

As long as your claim isn’t due to an accident that you’re responsible for, you can cancel your claim by calling your car insurance company.

Any expenses over your policy’s stated limits will have to be paid out of pocket. You may be able to get compensation through legal means if another person is responsible for the damage.