How Do I File A Car Accident Claim?

file car insurance claim on laptop

Being involved in a car accident can be stressful, and painful depending on the severity of it and just overall time consuming. The physical and mental stress of an accident is what you hear of most. The doctor office visits, time spent in physical therapy and just overall resting so your body can heal. What’s not usually advertised is the time it takes to file your auto accident claim and the number of discussions needed between you and your adjuster to finally conclude your claim.

In our February 2022 blog entitled “I’ve Had an Auto Accident, How Can an Accredited Claims Adjuster Help Me?” we discuss how an Accredited Claims Adjuster (ACA) is a policy holder’s best ally when filing an insurance claim. We also address how often a claimant can talk with their adjuster and what to do if the claimant disagrees with the vehicle value comparison.

In our January 2022 blog entitled “Car Accident and Filing an Insurance Claim” we discuss in depth the initial impacts of being involved in a car accident, what to do if you are injured and what steps to take and what to document while at the accident scene. In this blog we discuss the nuts and bolts of how to personally file a car accident claim with your insurance company.

How do you file your car accident claim, what is the first step?

Prior to contacting your insurance company, you want to make sure you have all your documentation handy including any photos, videos, police report, witness testimonials and their contact information. Most large insurance companies have an online portal for claimants to upload their pertinent information. This avoids the hassle of emailing each piece of information to an inside insurance adjuster.

If a claimant’s insurance company does have an online portal the first step is to log into the portal. There will be areas within the portal to insert your contact information along with areas to supply the date of the accident and a description of what happened. There will also be areas to upload any photos, videos, and documents such as the police report, receipt from the tow company. Within this online portal claimants can also upload any medical receipts and reports.

Once you upload everything and save it in your portal you will be assigned a claim number and an adjuster. This claim number will be essential to identifying your claim. Whenever you are talking with an insurance adjuster whether it’s an inside adjuster or an Accredited Claims Adjuster you will need to supply them with your claim number. They receive thousands of claims daily so to identify your particular claim, you will need to furnish the assigned claim number each time you are talking with an adjuster.

In the event your insurance company does not offer an online portal to upload all of your information you will need to most likely email all documents to your assigned inside insurance adjuster. One note of caution, be sure to properly label all files and be certain in your email you describe each document. In this event where your insurance company does not have an online portal, you would call your insurance company and tell them you need place a claim. You will most likely need to explain the nature of your claim so the proper adjuster can be assigned. Your insurance agency will assign you an adjuster. After you email your adjuster all the information it may still require you to make a phone call and give a recount of what exactly happened during your accident. In this call you can also summarize all of the documentation provided initially.

After I file my claim, what is the next step?

You will want to allow a couple of days for your adjuster to review the supporting documentation. If your adjuster is relatively new it may take a bit longer or if your particular type of claim is the first of its kind for the adjuster, it may take longer. If you have not received any communication from your inside adjuster within a week you may want to call them. In the case of using the online portal and you don’t know your adjuster we recommend calling the 800 or 855 number for your insurance claims department and find out who exactly has been assigned to your claim. Be sure and get their full name, email and direct phone number. In the event you already know who your adjuster is, then it would be time to follow up with them directly. In your claim portal (if this is what your insurance company offers) the contact information for your claim adjuster will be listed.

Depending on the severity of your accident will determine the number of phone conversations you may have with your adjuster. The inside adjuster assigned to your claim is not necessarily the person who may be physically reviewing the damage to your vehicle but rather they are reviewing the documentation and talking with you directly. If your vehicle requires a personal visit from an insurance adjuster, then an Accredited Claims Adjuster would be assigned, also known as an all lines adjuster. This adjuster is the person who physically drives to the body shop and reviews the claim in person. They look at all parts of your vehicle and will further assess the damage. They will also speak with members of the body shop/collision repair center to better understand what’s involved in the repair including costs for materials and labor.

Can I meet in person with the Accredited Claims Adjuster to review my case?

In the event you are assigned only to an inside adjuster, it is unlikely you will be able to meet with them. These folks work remote and are not in the field. Typically, they are not located near the claimant or where the accident happened so a claimant’s conversation with an inside adjuster would be strictly over the phone and via email. If your case is more involved and requires the personal inspection of an adjuster, it is possible for you to meet with the Accredited Claims Adjuster to review the case in person. This meeting may take time to set up especially if the adjuster must travel to the collision center where the claimant’s vehicle is located.

If a face-to-face meeting is possible between the claimant and Accredited Claims Adjuster, a mutually agreed upon date and time is set up for a review of the vehicle. It is during that meeting time that the claimant can further discuss the accident with the ACA and review the damage to the vehicle.

As we discussed in our February 2022 blog, if the claimant does not agree with the vehicle value provided by the ACA, the claimant can request a second vehicle value evaluation at no additional cost.

What happens next after the adjuster fully reviews my claim?

Once my claim is fully reviewed and either the inside adjuster or the Accredited Insurance Adjuster (or both) determine the value of the vehicle along with the repair costs, you as the claimant will be contacted. You will be given options based on the assessments. If there is personal injury involved the adjuster will review your reimbursement for all medical bills including those for all scans, x-rays and physical therapy. The personal injury side of your claim is treated separately from the vehicle claim. Your vehicle side of the claim has a couple of options, first option is to repair your vehicle of which you may have to pay an out-of-pocket deductible and your insurance company picks up the rest of the repair costs. The second option is depending on the severity of the accident, the insurance company may “total” your vehicle where they deem it a total loss based on your vehicle value in the current market compared to the cost to fix it.

In the case of the first option where your vehicle is repaired you would pay your deductible and insurance pays for the remainder of your repair bill. You will be without your vehicle for a while longer while you wait for the repairs to be complete. Depending on your insurance policy, you may be able to get a rental vehicle to use while you wait on your repair. Some auto insurance policies offer a rental option for an additional fee.

If you are in the case of the “total loss” situation, then the insurance company will send you a check payment based on the current comparable vehicle values of other similar vehicles in your area. You would then be able to purchase another vehicle to replace your loss.

Is the Accredited Claims Adjuster really in my corner?

Yes! Any of the adjusters, whether they are an inside adjuster or an Accredited Claims Adjuster, are all looking out for your best interest. This is one reason an ACA will get involved if the claim is more complex. An ACA will review your claim in person and look at your vehicle with a “fine tooth comb” to get your best vehicle value if your vehicle is deemed a total loss.

Our best advice

As a company who offers the ACA designation, we highly recommend staying in touch with your insurance adjusters throughout your entire claim process. Be sure to provide as much documentation as you can regarding your accident. The more photos, videos, and proof of your accident the better informed the adjuster will be and can make a fair assessment.
For more information on becoming an Accredited Claims Adjuster we invite you to learn more on our website: or call us at 1-800-309-2549.

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