Last updated: January 2023
Accidents happen, and while you never want to be involved in one, you definitely don’t want to deal with the hassle of the subsequent car insurance claim process. However, that process isn’t a headache if you know how to handle it.
Keep reading to learn what to do after an accident, how to file an auto insurance claim, and get tips on how to speed up your car insurance claim.
What to Do After an Accident
One of the best things you can do to speed up the car insurance claim process is gathering as much information as you can, as early as you can — starting at the scene of the accident. Here’s what to do after an accident:
- Collect personal information from those involved, including their names, phone numbers, home addresses, and email addresses.
- Get vehicle information, including the year, make, model, license plate number, and color of all cars involved.
- Get insurance information because it’s probably the first thing your claims adjuster will want to see. Make sure you exchange insurance details with every driver involved in the accident.
- Make a note of other relevant information. This includes the date, time, location, and weather and road conditions. Also, get witness statements if possible.
- Take pictures as long as you can do it safely. Get photos of the scene of the accident, including damage to your vehicle, the other vehicles involved, the location of the accident, the parties involved, witnesses, and anything else that feels relevant.
- Contact law enforcement. Once police officers arrive, be sure to get their names and cooperate as they collect information for the police report. They will also give you instructions on how to get a copy of the police report once it is complete. Hang on to any paperwork they give you and share copies with your claims adjuster. Keep in mind that police may not respond to every call, especially for minor accidents with no injuries.
What if the Police Don’t Show Up After an Accident?
What happened to calling the police to the scene of a car accident?
Before anyone panics, police will still respond to the scene of most car accidents. However, some cities (like Nashville) prioritize other incidents during peak call times if the accident is minor and without injuries.
In an interview with the Tennessean, Metro Nashville Police Department Spokesman Don Aaron said the policy change is to free up officers to focus on keeping neighborhoods safe and make them available to respond to high-priority calls. Also, this approach prevents the people involved in a minor car crash from waiting for hours for an officer to show up. There are several exceptions to Nashville’s policy, and most cities probably have similar protocols in place. These exceptions include:
- One of the drivers involved insists an officer responds to the scene
- A damaged vehicle (or vehicles) is disabled and blocking traffic
- The accident is a hit-and-run
- Two or more parties involved are engaged in heated arguments
Some departments, like Memphis, called these changes a temporary measure to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Run a search to see if your city has made or is making similar changes to the protocol. Or call your local police department and ask.
What should I do if the police don’t respond to my call?
If police in your area are not responding to the scene of minor accidents, don’t panic. Most departments offer tips for self-reporting the accident. However, without an official police report, it’s even more vital for you to collect as much information and capture as many photos as you can at the scene of the accident (as noted above) for when you’re ready to file a claim. You can file a claim without a police report, but that document is typically a part of any claims department’s investigation. You want your claim representative to have as much information as possible, and without a police report, most of the responsibility falls on you.
How to File a Car Insurance Claim & Speed Up the Car Insurance Claim Process
Once you’ve taken the appropriate action after the accident, it’s time to file a car insurance claim. Although speeding up the car insurance claim process begins at the accident scene, there are a few more things you can do after the accident to help things run more smoothly.
1. Contact Your Insurer Immediately
The sooner you contact your insurer to file a claim, the easier it will be for your adjuster to make the necessary inquiries to get your claim moving along. Call your insurance company as soon as possible – ideally from the scene of the accident, if you can do so safely.
Direct Auto Insurance customers can call 1-800-403-1077 to file a claim with a claims specialist over the phone, start a claim via the Direct Auto Mobile App, or log into MyAccount to start an auto claim online conveniently. Our claims department is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Customer service is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (EST) and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (EST).
2. Be Responsive and Cooperate
Once you report your claim, your insurance adjuster will take the lead as they oversee the status of your repairs and address any issues that may arise, like further damage, payments for additional damage owed, or changes to the expected completion date.
Quickly settling a car insurance claim requires cooperation all around — from you, your adjuster, the body shop, the other people involved, etc. A minor accident, like a fender bender, is common and therefore relatively easy for your adjuster to handle. When everyone works together, the car insurance claim process can be a breeze!
Remember to keep your adjuster’s contact information handy, so you can quickly get in touch when you want to check your claim status.
3. Be Forthcoming, Even About the Most Minor Details
This is a necessary time to pay attention to detail. Understandably, sharing even the most seemingly insignificant information about your accident or incident could inflict some level of stress, emotional suffering, or financial pain. It’s human instinct to want to steer clear of anything that causes difficulty in our lives! However, it’s crucial to be upfront about every last detail of your claim with your adjuster because missing information can stall the auto insurance claim process.
How Long Does a Car Insurance Claim Take to Settle?
A car insurance claim can take anywhere from 30 days to six weeks or longer to settle. It’s probably not the answer you want to hear, but several factors can affect how long it takes for your car insurance claim to settle. These factors include:
- The nature of the claim. Roadside assistance claims and glass claims can be handled relatively quickly. Injury claims and natural disaster claims take longer to process.
- Not being able to pay your deductible. Deductibles typically must be paid at the time of repair. If you don’t have the cash to cover your deductible, your claim may not be handled promptly.
- Communication. To move things along quickly, both the adjuster and the claimant should communicate openly during the car insurance claim process.
- Your satisfaction with repairs. If you aren’t satisfied with your repairs, point it out immediately. It might delay the process, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that the repairs were made correctly and to your liking.
Most adjusters are happy to complete a claim so they can get to work on the others – because there are always more coming. Being helpful, responsive, and cooperative are all simple ways to help speed up the car insurance claim process!
How to Get a Rental Car from an Insurance Claim
Life doesn’t stop while a repair shop is working on your vehicle. You still need to get to work or school, and you could be in a bind if you don’t have a second car. Fortunately, in some cases, you can get a rental car from an insurance claim if you carry rental reimbursement coverage.
Rental reimbursement coverage can help with the cost of renting a car in the meantime if your vehicle isn’t drivable due to a covered accident or loss. However, it’s important to know that this coverage is optional – you can only purchase it if you also purchase comprehensive and collision coverage. You must have it at the time of the accident for the benefits to apply.
At Direct Auto, we help our customers prepare for any incidents on the road with affordable car insurance. Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732), visit us online, or visit your nearest Direct Auto location to learn more. If you’re a Direct Auto customer and need to file a claim or have questions about an existing claim, please don’t hesitate to contact our Claims Department.
- What to Do After an Accident
- What’s in a Police Accident Report? Do I Get a Copy?
- How Much Money Could a Car Accident Cost Me?