4 Things to Know About Making a Claim After a Car Accident

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KEY POINTS

  • Auto insurance should cover many costs that occur due to an accident, but not all of them.
  • If a crash occurs, drivers should report it to insurance and get evidence and information right away.
  • It won't necessarily be your insurer that pays for damages.


It's good for drivers to be prepared in case they ever find themselves in that situation.

A car accident can be really stressful, and drivers involved in one have a lot to deal with. But one of the most important things to do post-crash is to initiate an insurance claim. That's because auto insurance companies provide important compensation to save motorists from large out-of-pocket losses if a crash happens.

Unfortunately, many people don't really understand the post-crash process and what their rights and obligations are during it. This could mean they don't get the compensation they deserve. Drivers who don't want that to happen to them should be aware of these four key tips.

1. Accidents should be reported to the insurance company right away

The first and most important thing to do is to contact the insurance company after a collision. Every driver should report the crash to their own insurer. This is true even if a motorist was not at fault for the crash.

When a driver wasn't at fault, the auto insurance of the person who caused the crash should provide compensation. But this doesn't always happen, since the at-fault driver may have no insurance or too little coverage. By reporting a collision to their own insurer, motorists can make sure their losses are paid for if they have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

Once the crash has been reported to the insurance company, the insurer will take over and move forward with the claims process. This can include working to get compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance when possible.

While sometimes a victim may need a lawyer to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver in order to get the full amount of money appropriate to cover losses after a crash, it's still often best to start with reporting the collision to insurance and seeing what compensation is offered.

2. It's important to have evidence about the crash

Drivers need to collect as much evidence as they can after a collision because they may need to prove who was at fault. Some of the details to gather include:

  • The name, contact details, and insurance of other drivers
  • The names of witnesses
  • A police report if police are called to the scene (which they should be in almost all cases)
  • Photos of the accident scene
  • Documentation of injuries by a medical professional

Collecting this information can help make a car accident claim go more smoothly since these details can be used by insurers to determine who pays and how much compensation is appropriate.

3. It may not be your insurer that pays for damages

In some cases, drivers will make claims with their own insurer to get compensation. This can happen if the motorist was at fault for causing the crash and has collision coverage that will pay for losses. It can also happen if the motorist relies on underinsured or uninsured coverage.

But when another driver causes the collision and has liability insurance, it is this insurance company that should ultimately be responsible for paying for losses and damages. The insurer may make a settlement offer that crash victims can choose to accept, or those harmed by the collision may go to court to pursue a personal injury case if a crash caused them to be hurt.

4. You'll be out some money after many accidents -- even with full coverage

Finally, the last key thing to know is that insurance won't necessarily pay for everything. For drivers who were at fault, a deductible will usually apply when they rely on their collision coverage to obtain compensation. And even when a motorist relies on another party's insurance because the other driver caused the crash, they may only be compensated for the fair market value of their car and may not be able to find another comparable vehicle for the same price.

Being prepared for all of these realities after a claim is important so drivers will know what to do and how to ensure they maximize their chances at recovering the compensation they deserve.

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