Ideally, you’ll never have had to claim on your insurance for anything. Most claims stem from incidents that you would have preferred to avoid in the first place. If you have been involved, however, you may well have noticed that claims are rarely as straightforward as they seem. You pay a company to cover you in the event of a mishap, so once that mishap occurs, you assume that they will pay up, no questions asked. While we will not go into the rights and wrongs of the insurance industry, they take claims processing very seriously, and it can often feel like they will do anything they can to get out of meeting their responsibilities. To avoid any issues when you make a car insurance claim, you should ensure that you have the correct process in mind. Legally, while they can ask questions, insurers cannot ignore a valid claim, so take the time to ensure that yours is as accurate as possible.
1. Inform the Insurance Company Immediately
The sooner you inform the insurance company of your need to make a claim, the better. Any specific details that they require will be fresh in your mind, and you will be able to answer any initial questions they may have accurately. If you make certain claims that end up being proven untrue, such as through the use of another party’s dashcam, it can make your claim more difficult to process and approve. Some policies also come with limitations on how long the insured party has to make a claim – wait until after this deadline and the insurer has the right to ignore the claim altogether.
2. Immediately Inform the Police where Relevant
If the reason for your insurance claim involves a criminal act, such as theft or dangerous driving, your insurance company will expect an incident number as part of the claim. The police are often a valuable source of attributing blame for an accident, and if they deem it necessary to attend the scene, they will prove a trustworthy witness to your claim in case any questions arise.
3. Be Forthcoming with Specific Details
You can never really tell how much of an investigation your insurance company feels is warranted towards a specific claim, but you need to get your side of the story straight. Before you make the call, ensure that you have your policy number, vehicle details and the date and time of the incident to hand. Even if it is not your intention to mislead the insurer, they will identify any discrepancies in your account as the claim proceeds, and this may cause them to investigate further.
4. Always Use as Much Detail as Possible
You’ll be required to fill out a form as part of your claim, either physically or electronically. Take this opportunity to include as much detail as you possibly can and use any observations of the police or other third parties to ensure that the details you provide are useful for the insurer as they investigate the claim.
5. Ensure Your Insurance is Up to Date
The last thing you need when you make a claim is to find that your insurance conditions do not actually cover the event that caused the claim in the first place. If you have told your insurer that you do under 10,000 miles each year, they have priced your premium accordingly. If you are in the 15,000th mile when the incident occurs, they are within their rights to adjust or withdraw your policy. Given that the incident itself was already bad enough, the loss of coverage is the last thing you need.
6. Get Evidence Where Possible
There is rarely an explicit burden of proof on the claimant in insurance cases, but it is always better to make the investigation process as simple as possible. If you have video or photographic evidence, this will be considered valuable by both the police and your insurer. It could be the aforementioned dashcam footage from within your vehicle or potentially security camera footage from your home in cases of car theft.
7. Do Not Interfere in Ongoing Investigations
If you have followed the tips above, you will have already presented your insurer with all the useful information that you have before their own investigation gets underway. Unless you have something ground-breaking to add during this process, it is usually best to stay out of sight and out of mind as the insurer does what they are best at. Contrary to popular belief, they understand their obligations to customers and will not go out of their way to avoid a claim.
8. Feel Free to Contact the Insurer
While you should not get involved with the investigation itself, that does not mean that you need to cut off all communication with your insurer. You are well within your rights to request updates and findings before the claim is settled, and this can actually be beneficial, even if only for peace of mind.
9. Keep a Level Head
Claim-worthy events can often be emotional, and it can be tempting to embellish or exaggerate details of the incident. Unfortunately, insurers do not take the claimant’s state of mind into account when they seek holes in the story, and if you have gone over the top in your claim, this gives them a reason to extend the investigation, even if they are ultimately satisfied with the overall claim.
10. Keep Records
The sheer number of moving parts in an insurance claim can take the inexperienced by surprise, and it is important to keep records in other. Keep hold of electronic communications and paper-based documentation, and keep a record of each telephone interaction you have with your insurer. It is a good idea to record times and dates, along with the name of the person you spoke to. Most calls will be recorded as a matter of course, so make sure yours is easy to find.