What Questions Should I Ask Before Filing an Auto Insurance Claim?

Feb 20, 2021 | Personal Insurance

Sometimes, life can be quite tricky. At one moment, you are enjoying your road trip, and then you get into an accident all of a sudden. Maybe you hit someone’s fence or you collided with someone else. You can never tell when and where you will suffer from these mishaps. That’s why being ready both literally and figuratively is a must.

Many drivers find filing insurance claims confusing. Add it to the fact that their minds must be jumbled up because of the accident. Knowing the essential questions and concerns that you should ask is a big help in filing an auto insurance claim.

Making an insurance claim involves contacting your insurance company, and asking to cover you for all the possible losses you can be reimbursed for. Of course, there are limitations and certain conditions for your insurance to kick in. Ask your insurance provider about some questions to have a comprehensive view of how insurance claims work.

Should I report to the police after an accident?

Being involved in an accident can get you panicky. When you panic, you tend to ignore some details at the scene. If the damages are minor, and both of you who are involved can settle it without calling the police then it is good. However, what if you missed an important fact that may get you accountable for? Filing a police report is a good move after an accident. In Denver, Colorado, it is required to report a car accident immediately. Take note that involving the police gives you solid evidence that you may use if you get sued by the other party.

Insurance claims don’t usually need police reports. Suffering from little damages both on you and your car may not need police involvement. For example, you crashed onto the rear end of another car. Other than some scratches, both drivers didn’t suffer from serious injuries. Both of you agreed to pay for the damages, and it’s done. Then there is no need to report to the police. However, if something unusual happens? Like, if the other driver escaping or the damage is serious, filing a police report is the right thing to do. 

How long before I file a claim?

Knowing how much time you have before submitting a claim is a must. Supposed that you can’t make the claim right away, you may want to know the time limit that is set in filing a claim. Ask your insurer about the limits in time so that you can surely receive reimbursements. Keep in mind that time limits may differ depending on the type of claim that you are filing. 

Submitting the necessary files in the shortest time possible is the best option. Filing a claim early means getting reimbursed early. The time limits vary depending on the state’s government. You can file a claim within 3 years for bodily injuries, and property, comprehensive, and collision damages in Denver, Colorado. Remember that filing a claim at a later date makes it harder for you to defend it. 

Should I get my car repaired after an insurance claim?

There are two things to consider in getting your car repaired after an insurance claim. First is your auto loan. It makes sense to repair your car if you still owe a big amount on a car loan. The second is if you still want to retain your full coverage insurance. Nonetheless, if you own the car and you do not want to have full coverage anymore, then making the repairs is up to you.

Your lender may require you to repair the car so that their property is fully functional. The reason why they require comprehensive and collision coverage is to protect their property. They want to reduce the risk of you running away without repairing the leased car. The reimbursement that you will receive to repair the car must be used to repair the car. 

Insurance companies wouldn’t want to insure a car that is more prone to damage. If you still want to carry full coverage, which includes comprehensive and collision coverage, you may want to repair the car. If you don’t, then the next time that you get in an accident, the damage worsens and compounds. They may require you to drop getting physical damage coverage if you won’t repair your car.

While my car is on repair, are my transportation expenses covered?

In case you are wondering if your transportation expenses are covered, the answer is yes. If and only if, your car insurance policy includes rental reimbursement coverage. It helps pay for rental cars and/or other forms of transportation if you are covered. You must remember that it only helps pay if you need to rent cars or travel by public transportation because of a covered loss. 

It is optional. Rental reimbursement coverage is not required and you will have to pay an additional fee on your premiums. Ask your insurer if they are in partnership with particular rental car companies. By renting cars from them, the bill may happen from the rental car company to your insurance company directly. Thus, it prevents you from paying out of your pocket.

What if my car gets totaled?

For instance, you are driving on a highway, and you collided against another car. The impact was huge and your car got damaged severely. Calculating the repair costs, your insurance provider told you that your car is totaled. Your car is declared as totaled if it’s damaged beyond repair. Though not that it cannot be repaired, it’s just that the costs exceed the value of your car. 

The question is, what should you do if your car is totaled? Instead of crying over your losses, you should get into action right away. This includes filing a claim as soon as possible, compiling all the necessary papers and documents, and many others. Take note that the key to getting it done as fast as possible is doing these as soon as possible.

Report the claim to your insurance company.

Comprehensive and collision coverage is the coverage that pays if your car is totaled either by hitting a deer or crashing into another vehicle. Comprehensive coverage pays if you hit an animal, or the car got damaged by hail or falling branches. On the other hand, collision coverage, as the word collision implies, pays when you collide with another vehicle. These two are usually required when you are leasing a car or you have an auto loan. 

If you get into an accident, the first thing that you may want to do is call your insurance provider. They will tell you whether your car is totaled or not based on the repair costs. The amount that they will reimburse is the actual cash value of the vehicle, minus your deductible. To speed up the process, make sure to gather all the papers needed and mail them as soon as possible.

If you have an auto loan, check how much you still have to pay.

Remember that although the car is totaled, you will still have to pay for the auto loan. The lender has the right to protect their interest, that’s why they require you to get covered by comprehensive and collision coverage. The reimbursement that you will receive may be used to pay for your auto loan. 

In case you still owe your lender even after you are reimbursed, you will have to pay out of pocket. One way to avoid this situation is to get covered by gap insurance. This covers you for how much is the difference between the depreciated value of the vehicle and what you still owe. This way, you will be free from paying the remaining balance on your auto loan.

I am involved in a single-car accident, how is it handled?

You are driving on a sunny day and it is really bright. An animal is crossing the road, but you didn’t notice it. You managed to swerve at the last minute to avoid hitting the animal, but you hit a pole at the roadside instead. Now, you are thinking about whether you will be considered at-fault once you file a claim. Well, the answer is yes. 

According to insurance companies, you are considered at-fault for single-car accidents unless it’s a flying object that damages your car. Don’t worry because if you have collision and comprehensive coverage, you get reimbursed. It is so because single-car accidents mostly happen due to things that are out of the driver’s control. Maybe it is due to the weather, the sun, the road itself, and potholes. Distraction due to phones is a serious matter though. Even if no one catches you, getting involved in a single-car accident because of using a cellphone is definitely your fault.

I’m at-fault for certain damages, do I have to pay them myself?

When we get into accidents, one of the most common things that we do immediately is to file a claim. However, there are many reasons that you should consider before filing one. Especially when filing an at-fault claim, you may need to think twice. Compare the repair costs, the deductibles, and the possible increase in your premiums. Then, you make the decision.

One way to know which option is better: to pay out of pocket or to file an at-fault claim, is to be practical. Estimate the costs that you will need to spend. Then ask yourself if you can afford the price. For example, your car needs to be repaired at a price of $1050. You have a deductible worth $1000. You will receive $50 as reimbursement. In addition, filing too many claims for simple matters may result in the non-renewal of your premium. Is it worth it to increase your insurance rates just for minor damages?

Have you filed a claim within the last three years?

Filing many claims within a short time can imply one thing. You often get your car damaged. Insurance companies may consider you as a high-risk driver. Being a high-risk driver doesn’t only mean higher rates to pay. You can also be subjected to non-renewal. 

For example, you filed a claim worth $2100, with a deductible of $1500. You just filed an at-fault claim two months ago. It is wiser to pay for the $600 that you will get out of pocket than getting an increase in your rates. In addition, your insurer may not renew your policy.

Have you saved money for emergency funds?

In the long run, having emergency funds may be a better option than always filing insurance claims. It is more so especially if you are paying for repairs for small damages. Filing insurance claims will show its value more if you file one for major accidents. That aside, it also lessens the energy that you will spend on working with your insurer about the claim.

It is understandable that many will find it hard to save money. However, you may start from small amounts until you accumulate enough. It is not like you get into accidents every day. You must only use it for emergencies. 

What happens if my car is borrowed by a friend and got in an accident?

It is common for someone to lend their cars to their friends, though it may also depend on their trust in each other. However, no matter how careful one is, with all the unpredictable situations that may arise on the road, accidents are inevitable. The frustrating thing is, what if your car gets damaged but you’re not the one driving it?

One of the concerns that vehicle owners have is the consequences of lending their car and the driver got in an accident. They may worry about whose insurance will cover the vehicle, the driver, the increase in insurance rates, and many others. Knowing the consequences and how the policy works for at-fault accidents caused by drivers not included in your policy is a must.

Does my car insurance or my friend’s cover the vehicle?

Here’s a real-life example: You lent your car to your friend because he’s going to buy some groceries. On the way home, he hit a pole and the car was damaged. You called your insurer and asked whether your insurance will still have to cover the repairs. Then, they told you that it will pay indeed.

In most states, the vehicle owner’s car insurance will cover the vehicle in an at-fault accident, regardless of who is driving it. That is if the vehicle owner is covered by comprehensive and collision coverage. Remember that you have to pay the deductible for the insurance to kick in.

Will my liability insurance cover the driver too?

Liability insurance covers the property damages made to and medical expenses of the other driver. Generally, your liability insurance will cover others who are driving your car with your permission. In the same way, you will also be covered by liability insurance if you are driving someone else’s car. However, take note that “permission” is emphasized here.

Giving permission to other people to drive your car makes them permissive users. Usually, insurers consider your blood-related family and household members as such. You can also list other people as permissive users in your policy. Even so, the limits may be lower for these than if the one who is driving is you.

How about my premiums? Will they increase?

The moment you allow someone else to drive your vehicle, you are covering them. Your insurance rates depend on the likelihood of making a claim. So if your car is involved in an accident, then yes, your premium will rise. There is not that much difference when you are driving your car or someone you lent it to does.

That’s why you should think twice before lending your car to others. Consider the driving habits of the person that you are going to lend your car to. Do they get easily distracted? Do they have a history of speeding? Though no one can predict accidents, only when you are sure enough should you lend your car to someone else.

Final Say

In all situations, communication is the key. Our daily lives are filled with all sorts of communication. From meeting someone, buying at convenience stores, getting insured, and filing a claim, we use our mouths and body to communicate. Especially in filing a claim, getting a clear understanding of the things to consider is a must. It is important to relay all the necessary information to your agent.

Getting insured gives you protection in case you get in an accident. However, filing a claim may indeed send your mind into spirals. We hope that you find the questions and answers mentioned above helpful in making an auto insurance claim. Knowing what you need to know in filing claims may save you time and effort. We, at Advantage Insurance Solutions, can give you the best quotes that you need in auto insurance in Denver, Colorado or any of the over 40 states we cater to. Ask us your questions and concerns, and we will do our best to help you. Call us now!