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How to File an Auto Insurance Claim

Sailun Tires

Car insurance is one of those products you buy, but hope to never use.

However, if you damaged your car (or someone else’s) in an accident, telling your insurance company is normally much less costly than covering the associated expenses yourself.

To do that, you have to file a claim, which is a simple process that involves notifying your insurance provider of the accident and submitting a claim form with relevant information. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to file an insurance claim, so you know what to expect throughout the process. 

1. Gather Information

Assuming you’ve collected the necessary information at the scene of the accident, you need to compile everything so you have it right in front of you. The information your insurance company will need from you for includes:

  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Weather conditions
  • Your policy number
  • Vehicle information for each vehicle involved (make, model, year, license plate number)
  • Contact information of all parties involved
  • Other drivers’ insurance information
  • Police report (if one was filed)
  • Photos and videos of the scene and damage to the vehicles
  • Witness statements and their contact information

Having these things ready will make the claims process much smoother. If it needs to be escalated, they’ll also help your case.

2. Review Your Policy and Deductibles

Understanding your insurance coverage is critical because it helps you establish realistic expectations for how your provider will treat your claim. It may also be the deciding factor in whether you decide to file at all.

For instance, if your policy includes coverage for rental car reimbursement, you might qualify for a temporary car rental for the duration of your post-accident repairs. On your policy, the deductible for your car insurance shows the amount you need to pay yourself for a covered claim. The coverage limits define the highest amount your insurer will compensate you in a specific category.

3. Notify Your Insurance Provider

You want to do this as soon as possible. Most companies have a specific time frame in which you must report the accident and file a car insurance claim. You can normally do this online through your provider’s mobile app or desktop customer portal. You may also be able to call a customer service number to file the claim, and the representative will take the information over the phone. 

4. Work with an Adjuster

After you file, your insurance provider will assign an adjuster (or several adjusters) to evaluate your claim. Typically, an adjuster will reach out to you within the first three days after you’ve filed. They’ll schedule an inspection to assess your vehicle’s damage and/or personal injury claims. They’ll also review police reports and speak with witnesses about the accident.

Depending on their policies, you might need to get a repair estimate for your vehicle. The repair shop will then provide this estimate to your insurer. Based on the data from both the adjuster and the repair shop, your insurer will make the final assessment of your claim.

5. Review and Accept the Settlement Offer

After your adjuster reviews the information and damage estimates, they’ll present a settlement, which is the amount of money your insurance company is willing to pay for the accident-related damages. You can review this offer and negotiate it if you think it doesn’t fairly cover the expenses or you disagree with their assessment.

Once you’ve reviewed and agreed upon a settlement offer, you can accept it, pay your deductible, and receive compensation for the damages. You may also reject the offer to pursue other options, like arbitration or mediation.


Once you’ve made it that far, that’s it! You’ve successfully filed an auto insurance claim and carried out the process. If you have any other issues or have questions along the way, your insurance company will be happy to guide you through the process. 

For the future, it’s a good idea to review your policy and coverage periodically to make sure you’re adequately protected in the case of another accident. Look at coverage limits, deductibles, and additional features and benefits. By staying informed, you can ensure a smooth claims process.


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