Car Accident and Filing an Insurance Claim

person taking a photo of car accident


What do to when you are in a car accident?

Imagine fastening your seat belt, putting your car in reverse, heading out of your apartment complex parking lot or driving down your driveway, radio is on, it’s a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky and your mind is focused on where you are going. Out of no where “BAM!” You have been hit by another vehicle!

Hopefully the accident is one which you and your passenger(s) are conscious and can get out of your car safely. In the event you and your passenger(s) are physically not able to exit your vehicle try and reach your phone to call 911 and request an ambulance and fire truck. Stay on the phone with the 911 operator while you wait for help to arrive. Keep talking if you can and tell them what you remember happening. The line will be recorded so the details will be taken down. Give your name, phone number, where you were driving and what happened if you are able to. In the aftermath of an accident finer details get forgotten. If you or your passenger(s) are able to recap the incident for the 911 operator your details will be documented for reference later. Once help arrives hang up the phone and let the emergency crews get to work.

Steps to take if you and your passenger(s) can safely exit your vehicle.

There are several steps we recommend you take in the aftermath of your car accident so no detail gets overlooked and you have proper documentation for your auto insurance claim.

1)Immediately look to see who hit you and write down their license plate, make and model of their vehicle in the event they leave the scene of the accident

a.If there are multiple vehicles involved write down the license plate, make and model of all vehicles involved

2)Take photos of the vehicles involved in the accident – take photos from all angles to show the damage

a.Take photos of the street signs as well so you remember where the accident happened

3)Immediately get contact information from eye-witnesses. Get their first and last name, phone number, physical address and email address. Ask witnesses to not leave the scene and ask that they give their testimony to the police so witness reports are documented in the police report.

4)The vehicle that hit you, if the driver is conscious take a photo of their insurance card. Ask if they are the owner of the vehicle. If they are not the vehicle owner, then write down their information as well. Be sure to get first and last name, phone number, physical address and email address. If they won’t give physical address, then get the other information.

5)If there are multiple cars involved get a photocopy of all driver’s insurance cards and if the other drivers are not the owner of the vehicles involved get their contact information as well. Name, address, phone number and email address.

a.If the other drivers are not driving their own vehicle but they do have their own insurance take a photo of their insurance cards as well.

6)When emergency crews arrive be sure to be looked at. Have them check your vitals as well as your passenger’s vitals. Sometimes you may feel fine at the accident scene, but it could be adrenaline kicking in that may mask internal injuries.

7)If you suspect any other drivers involved in the accident may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, be sure to tell the police officer. Ask them to do a sobriety test or drug test.

8)It may be a challenge to hold back your emotions as you start to realize the damage and the inconvenience you and your passenger(s) are about to experience. It’s best to hold back emotions while at the scene of the accident. Tempers can fly quickly so you will want to do what you can to avoid any altercations.

9)Don’t worry about debris in the road, let it sit there. Take photos of the debris.

10)You and your passenger(s) just wait off to the side of the road while the police report is taken.

11)If you have animals with you in your vehicle, be sure to have them on a leash and hold on to them. Ask a witness to hold on to your pet(s) while you are taking down the driver and witness information and getting photos.

12)If you are able to call your insurance company from the scene, ask them to call a tow truck that is in network. The tow agency will tow your vehicle to the nearest collision center.

13)Be sure to get a copy of the police report before leaving the scene.


Accident is documented, now what?

After the accident you will want to file a claim with your insurance company to start the claim process. You may not have needed medical attention at the scene of the accident but as hours go by you will most likely start to feel the soreness kicking in. With some insurance policies you have up to so many days to be seen by a medical professional so the medical visit is covered by the claim. Be sure to document all medical professionals you see and as well as all tests and x-rays performed.


When will an Accredited Claims Adjuster get involved?

Many of the insurance companies offer online filing where you can electronically upload the police report, all photos and video documents as well as medical documents. Once you file your claim with your insurance company an Accredited Claims Adjuster (ACA) will be assigned to your case.
The role of an Accredited Claims Adjuster is to assist you, the policy holder, with expediting your claim and provide a fair value for replacement costs. A good ACA will review every document you provided in your online claim filing. This person will review all photos, videos, all receipts, medical reports and receipts and all documentation. They will review the information to determine if the claimant has had prior injuries as well as assess for loss of wages. After reviewing all documentation and photos the ACA will have a better scope of your damage and determine how much the insurance company will pay you for repairs or whether your vehicle will be totaled.
Depending on the severity of damage, the ACA may personally visit your vehicle at the repair shop to assess damages in person. The ACA may talk with the mechanic for further explanation to understand the scope of repairs and determine if the costs for repair exceed the replacement value of your vehicle. Once the adjuster has reviewed everything, the next step is to assess vehicle replacement value. The adjuster will use a computer software to take a geographical look in the surrounding area at comparable vehicles to get a sense of replacement value. Once this value is determined the adjuster will compare the cost to fix your vehicle with that of the replacement value and then will make a decision on how you are compensated.


How long can it take for the Accredited Claims Adjuster to review my claim?

Generally the Accredited Claims Adjuster has 30 days to review a claim. The process can be slower if you, the driver, does not do your part and upload all supporting documentation for review. The process can move slower if there are multiple people involved or if there are fatalities.


If my claim is approved how will I receive payment?

If your claim is approved the insurance company will pay you. Several insurance companies may offer online payment options where the money will automatically be deposited into your account while others will send a paper check in the mail. The U.S. Postal service has been known to delay so an electronic payment will arrive much faster.

Our team at Educational Services and Consulting wish you safe driving. We encourage drivers to always keep a pen and paper in their vehicle at all times. Being prepared to take information at any time will help you when filing your claim in the event you are in an accident. After you file your claim be sure to keep your case number handy. Some insurance companies offer a texting service that will notify you about your claim as it is being reviewed. The Accredited Claims Adjuster is there to help you get the right value for your vehicle.

If you or anybody you know is looking to make a career change, we would be happy to talk! We help individuals earn their Accredited Claims Adjuster designation through our online self-paced course. If you are one who enjoys helping others and are looking to supplement your income, this could be an opportunity. To learn more about our ACA online designation course please call us at 1-800-309-2549.

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