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Filing Auto Insurance Claims

Before you file a claim, find the answers to the following questions:

  • How much liability insurance do you have? This coverage pays for damage you cause to another vehicle or injuries to other people.
  • Does your state have no-fault insurance? What coverage does it provide? (See No-Fault Insurance)
  • What is the deductible for your collision and/or comprehensive coverage?

When you file a claim in your car is involved in an accident, if it is damaged by fire, flood or vandalism, or if it is stolen, take the following steps:

  • Phone your car insurance company or local company representative. Do it as soon as possible, even if you're far from home and even if someone else caused the accident. Ask your company how to proceed and what forms or documents will be needed to support your claim, such as medical and auto repair bills and a copy of the police report.
  • Supply the information your insurer needs. Normally, written notice of the accident or loss must be given to your insurance company as soon as it is reasonably possible. The notice should have your name, the names and addresses of all persons involved, the hour, date, place and facts of the accident or loss, and the names and addresses of witnesses.
  • Cooperate with your insurance company in its investigation, settlement or defense of any claim, and turn over to the company immediately copies of any legal papers you receive in connection with your loss. Make sure you keep the originals.
  • Your insurer will represent you if a claim is brought against you and attempt to resolve that claim or defend you if you're sued according to the terms and conditions of your policy.
  • Keep records of your expenses. Expenses you incur as a result of an automobile accident may be reimbursed under your policy. For example, a no-fault insurance policy will usually pay your medical expenses, and possibly other costs such as lost wages or at least part of your costs if you have to hire a temporary housekeeper.
  • Keep copies of your paperwork. Store copies of all your paperwork in your own files. You may need to refer to it later.

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