How to File a Car Insurance Claim

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Getting in an automotive accident can be one headache after another (quite literally if the accident is especially jarring). Dealing with any medical problems or being late to work is bad enough, but then you have to deal with your NY auto insurance company. While some companies are certainly easier to work with than others, the process of filing a claim and receiving compensation for your accident is roughly the same. Should you ever get in an accident, keep the following guidelines in mind.

The first thing you’ll need to do is contact your insurance company and inform them of the accident. Some drivers prefer to leave the insurance companies out of the process (especially if they might be at fault), it’s actually required by law that you at least contact and inform your insurer of the accident. Bear in mind that you’re not obligated to file a claim at this point.

Second, should you decide you want to make a claim, you’ll need to ask your insurance agent what sort of paperwork they’ll require for the filing. Often, the information required includes the time and place of the accident, the addresses and names of any drivers or witnesses involved, and potentially photos of damage to the vehicle. You’ll also want to obtain a copy of any police report issued for the incident. Merely getting all the paperwork together is only half the task; you’ll also need to submit all the paperwork under a deadline that varies by company.

Once you get all that out of the way, it’s time to start working out compensation, which depends on what sort of insurance you have. If you only carry liability insurance – which is the minimum requirement in most states – you’ll only receive compensation if you’re not at fault, and it will come from whoever is insuring the driver that is at fault. Other, more comprehensive coverage will cover your car even if you caused the wreck.

If you find that you’re covered, the process to decide on compensation can vary. Usually the insurance company will make an offer, which is based on statistical costs for the type of damage you sustain in the accident. Alternatively, if you find the offer too low, you can seek repair estimates for the damage and submit these to the insurance company. As long as these estimates come from reputable and trustworthy mechanic, the insurance company will either honor the estimate or make a counter-offer. As you can imagine, many drivers try to use an accident as an insurance payday, so insurers are wary of outrageous claims.

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