When should I file an auto insurance claim?
While there is no standard time, you should file an auto insurance claim as soon as possible if you are involved in a car accident or were the victim of a hit and run or theft (be prepared for an accident by knowing The First Steps You Need to Take After Wrecking Your Car).
Filing sooner gives the insurance company more time to take care of claims-related issues. It also means your coverage will kick in sooner, which will give you access to what you need, such as a rental car or medical benefits (see Is Rental Car Insurance Worth It? to find out whether you should purchase a policy with your rental).
That being said, if its a small issue and it doesn't prevent you from using your vehicle, you don't have to file a claim right away. But, of course, you should report the incident to the police straightaway, even if you wait a while to contact your insurer.
Filing a claim is a pretty straight forward thing; some insurers even have an online system that you can use to submit your claim details. They will ask you a series of questions and there might be follow-up conversations by phone or e-mail, but that will be all.
And if you have a broker, it's their responsibility to monitor the claims process and make sure you're satisfied with it. You can report any claims to your broker, who will in turn report it to the insurance company (see What Is an Insurance Broker? to find out what they can do for you). From there, the insurance company will open a claim file and assign an adjuster to the case. This person is in charge of investigating the losses, determining values lost and, finally, adjudicating the claim. You will likely also be working with them to settle the claim.
Written by Jacques Wong
Jacques grew up around the insurance industry and began actively participating in 2013. Since then, he has gotten a Level 2 license, won Insurance Council of BC awards in 2015 and 2020 for academic excellence in the insurance licensing courses. He educates insurance professionals through PNC Learning and as a Thought Leader at ReFrame Insurance.
In his day job as an insurance broker, he helps businesses with creative risk management solutions and strategic advice when it comes to insurance.
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