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Accidents Happen: A Short Guide to Filing a Claim

It’s your worst nightmare — a car accident. Everyone’s warned about crashes by their parents when they’re learning to drive, and you always hear about the insurance horrors of claim settlement on lawyers’ television commercials and glimpse them on highway billboards. Don’t panic, though. If you’ve recently been involved in a car accident and are wondering how to file a claim with your insurance provider, this post will break down the process into four easy steps.

Contact Your Insurance Company ASAP

As soon as the dust has cleared and everyone is home safely, call your insurance company to go about filing the claim. You’re going to be asked to provide information and documentation that supports your claim, and we’ll go more into detail about that later. First, it’s important that you understand the basic process.

While the claim filing process varies among companies, you should always expect to make a phone call and speak to a customer service representative. There are some important questions you need to ask relating to your coverage


After you explain the accident, ask for details about your current auto insurance coverage. Although most of us strive to avoid accidents altogether, its times like these when full comprehensive and collision coverage come in handy. Ask the representative about how much you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket for any repairs that need to be made.

Time Restraints

Many companies require claims to be followed within a certain timeframe following an accident. Calling your insurance company as soon as possible ensures that you’ll be aware of this and avoid missing out on coverage altogether.

Gather as Much Information as Possible

It’s easy and perfectly natural to get flustered immediately following a car accident, but even if it’s a minor fender-bender, you want to remain calm and collect as much information as you can that will support your claim.

Use your smartphone to photograph pictures of the damage to your vehicle and the other(s) involved. Call the police (yes, even if it’s not a major crash) and ask the officer for a copy of the official police report. Submitting this with your claim form can do wonders as it’s an authoritative backing of any claim you file.

Determine a Course of Legal Action

You can file a claim yourself or choose to work with an auto insurance attorney. Depending on the severity of the accident and damages incurred, it may pay to speak with an auto insurance attorney. If you or a passenger were hurt during the accident, you may want to speak to a lawyer to explore compensation beyond an insurance settlement.

Keep Copies of Everything

Even if your insurance company requires you to submit first copies of reports, you should make additional copies. These copies may come in handy later if you are unhappy with the settlement and decide to file a counter-claim or if the insurance company denies your claim and you have to file an appeal.

Most car insurance claims are pretty cut-and-dry. You’ll speak to a representative, have the damages inspected by an insurance adjuster and a repair shop, file a claim and await a settlement. However, complications can arise, so it’s important that you’re meticulous with your details and keep copies of everything related to the accident.

Accidents can happen to even the safest drivers, but understanding how insurance companies handle auto claims and learning how to file one properly is just another part of responsible car ownership. This knowledge isn’t the most enthralling or even the most useful in everyday life, but it will pay off in the long-run to learn as much as possible about filing a claim now.

Author information: Kare Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max. You can find Kara on Facebook and Twitter.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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