No matter how safe you are as a driver, it can obviously be very stress-inducing when you find yourself involved in a car accident.
There is, of course, the high chance of being injured during the accident and seeing damage to your car. However, if you were the cause of the accident, you will also have to make a car insurance claim to repair your vehicle or deal with any potential legal problems. If you seek to make a car insurance claim, then here is what you can expect when waiting for the claim to be settled.
Before making a claim
It is important to consider what you need to do during an accident before you make a car insurance claim. Remember that, though you may be concerned about your personal possessions within the car, you need to make sure that everyone is safely out of the vehicle after the crash has occurred.
Be careful not to move anyone into the middle of the road; instead, move any passengers to the side, away from any other drivers who are still taking their vehicles down the road. Make sure you check whether or not anyone needs the emergency services. If anyone is injured, then you will need to report it by phoning 999.
Whatever you do, do not leave the scene of the accident without leaving your car insurance details. If you do leave, then the maximum penalty would be a fine of up to £5,000, 5 to 10 penalty points on your licence and, at the court’s discretion, a driving ban. You need to leave the following details:
- Car registration numbers
- Insurance details
- Contact numbers/email addresses
Before you leave the scene, be sure to take pictures of the incident and any damage to the vehicle. If you are going to make a claim, then you will need evidence of what happened during the accident.
It can be difficult to remember all of the details of an accident, due to the stress of the situation. For this reason, taking photographs or installing a black box or dash cam into your car can ensure that you always can remember the smaller details of the accident. These details include:
- Any old damage vs. new damage;
- The location of the impact and accident;
- Any potential injuries;
- The appearance and license plates of any vehicles involved.
How long should I wait to make my claim?
You should always make your claim as soon as possible. If you leave it any later than 24 hours after the accident, you may begin to forget about details of this accident. If you are worried that you may forget about any details, then either take pictures or be sure to write down the full details of what happened once you have left the scene.
Remember that an accident can be traumatic, so get yourself home by phoning a taxi or calling a friend to pick you up. Alternatively, simply find a different means of travel to get home.
Filing a claim
When you contact your insurance company for a claim, they will interview you to find out what has happened during the accident.
Make sure that you fully understand all of the basic information about what happened to you during your accident so that you can inform your insurer about the situation. They will need to know about the vehicles and any identifying information.
Once the claim has been filed, you will need to make an appointment for your insurance company to go out and inspect the vehicle. Someone may be sent to personally see what the vehicle looks like or they may ask you to drive to them. Some insurers even ask for the car to be taken to a garage to be repaired at the same time as the car’s damage is inspected.
After your car is inspected, the insurance company will provide you with an estimate and will, in the majority of cases, pay for the damage.
How long does it take to settle a car insurance claim?
This entirely depends on the extent of the accident and how complicated the claim is. However, usually, it takes around 15 to 30 minutes for a claim to properly file. Most insurers allow their claims to be made through a phone call and will ask for all the details and evidence in regards to the case.
From there, the insurance company will try to settle your claim as quickly as possible. You can expect to receive a payment after the inspection has been completed, usually on the same day.
However, if your claim must undergo subrogation, then this can take longer – to the extent where it can take several months for you to receive your deductible reimbursement. This may be because of an unclear liability for the accident or if your story around your insurance and the other party having any discrepancies.
Overall, it may take around 4 to 9 months if your claim does end up becoming extremely complicated and you require additional evidence to have it completely settled.
The claims that may take longer to settle include:
- Personal injury claims;
- Total loss claims;
- Physical damage claims.
Most companies aim to settle any claims in 30 days or less; however, this may not always be the case, as some car insurance cases may be more complicated than others. Always be sure to have your evidence ready to present to your insurance company, as this will assist with how quickly they are able to deliver their payment to you.
While your insurer will always do their best to provide you with the best customer services, remember to be patient with them in order to make sure that they can process your claim as quickly as possible. Problems that could delay your claim include:
- Disputes about the level of cover;
- Poor communication with your insurer;
- Not being able to pay your excess if your insurer requests it;
- Missing insurance appointments (especially if the car needs to be assessed for levels of damage);
- Not approving of the repairer/emergency car replacements.
Can a claim be rejected?
In some instances, you may find that your insurer completely rejects your claim. While this does not happen very often, if you avoid reading the small print of your insurance contract, lie about your insurance details, or fail to mention any modifications to your car or having any out-of-date legal documents (such as a driving licence), then your insurer will be forced to reject your claim.
Therefore, you should be sure that all of your documents are fully read and understood and that documents are updated. This is to make sure that your insurer can accept your claim.