Step 1: You file your claim
File a claim as soon as you can. This could be with your insurance company or someone else’s insurance company. If it’s someone else’s insurance company, still let your insurance company know about the accident. You can call the company, file a claim online, or use the company’s mobile app.
- Write down car accident details, like witness information and the police report number if you have it.
- Take photos and videos of all damage.
- Do what you need to keep the damage from getting worse, like covering it with a tarp or making temporary repairs.
- Keep receipts for all expenses.
Deadline: Your company has 15 business days to say it got your claim.
Step 2: The company asks questions
Your insurance company will look at your policy to see if it covers the type of damage you had. An adjuster might visit in person or look at pictures of the damage to estimate repair costs. The insurance company might ask for more information to decide if it will accept your claim.
- Get the adjuster’s name, phone number, and email address.
- Give them answers as soon as you can.
- Be available for the adjuster so you can point out the damage.
- Make a list of what your company needs from you.
- Take notes on phone calls and ask who to call if you have questions.
Deadline: Your company has 15 business days after getting what it needs from you to decide if it will pay your claim. If the company rejects your claim, it must say why in writing.
Step 3: You choose a contractor or shop
Your insurance company might give you a list of body shops, but you can take your car to any shop. Get estimates from more than one contractor or body shop. Show them the insurance company’s estimate. Talk to your insurance company about any differences or other damage the contractor or shop found that the adjuster didn’t.
- Ask friends and neighbors for contractor or shop references.
- Don’t sign a contract with blank spaces.
- Don’t pay in full upfront.
Step 4: You get paid
The insurance company will subtract your deductible from your payment if you used your own insurance. You will owe that deductible to the contractor or body shop.
For home claims, you might get two payments if you have replacement cost coverage. The first payment is for the estimated repair costs minus depreciation. Depreciation is a decrease in value because of your home’s condition and age. The second payment comes after the repairs are done.
If you have a loan on your house, the company will usually send the payment to your mortgage company. The mortgage company must get in touch with you within 10 days of getting the payment. You’ll then work with the mortgage company to get the money released for repairs.
Deadline: After your insurance company agrees to pay all or part of your claim, it must pay within five business days.
Disagree with the amount of payment?
Call your insurance company or agent if you disagree with the amount of the claim payment. Provide documentation to back up your position.
Learn more: What if my insurance isn't paying enough?
Filed a claim with another driver’s insurance?
The deadlines on this page don’t apply if another driver’s insurance is paying the claim. But the insurance company must try to settle your claim quickly and fairly.