Five Steps to Filing an Auto Insurance Claim After an Accident

You are going along humming to the radio, enjoying the drive on your way home from work when BAM someone runs a stop sign and broadsides you. Other than the instantaneous panic and fear you feel, you might also be very angry. After all, it was their fault, right?

You might be tempted to act and talk out of pure emotion right at that moment in time. No one can fault you for how you feel, that’s for sure. However, take a moment to take a few slow, deep cleansing breaths and think about your best course of action that will ensure you are properly compensated for your losses.

1. Call 911.

It doesn’t matter that no one was too badly hurt or that the other driver promised to pay for your car. Call the police and tell dispatch your name, type of vehicle, and license plate number as well as the other person’s license plate number and the kind and color of car as best as you can see or determine.

2. Write or record every bit of information.

  • Take cell phone pictures and videos of as much of the damage and of the scene that you can.
  • Take notes about everything you see about the accident while you are there. Don’t wait. You’ll be dismayed at how much information you forget so quickly.
  • Include descriptions of the other vehicle(s) involved and how many people appear to be inside each vehicle.
  • Note people standing around each vehicle as witnesses or onlookers.
  • Keep an eye out for anything suspicious. There are fraud rings, especially in PIP or no-fault states, where people will place a claim against someone and they weren’t even in the car or on the scene.

3. Get law enforcement’s information.

For the officers who arrived at the scene, took everyone’s information and statements, make sure you have their name and badge information and request how you can obtain a copy of the accident report. Ask the officer for the at-fault driver’s insurance information.

4. Get medical attention even if you don’t think you are seriously injured.

If there is any trauma or injury, don’t hesitate. Just go straight to the ER. Even if you think you are perfectly okay, it’s recommended that you go ahead and get a full evaluation from your GP and/or a reputable chiropractor. It’s likely your body was thrown around enough to have your spine and neck misaligned which will account for a great deal of discomfort in the coming weeks. You might end up with a great deal of pain when you wake up the next day after the adrenaline wears off and you need some fast medical treatment. If you try to claim money for an injury and you didn’t go get checked out until weeks later, you could have your claim denied.

5. Call the insurance companies.

Call in your statement not just the at-fault driver’s insurance, but yours, too. You can claim first party medical benefits on your own insurance policy if you haven’t excluded that coverage so you can get your medical practitioners paid right away instead of waiting for a claim payout that might take months. You also want to be on the record for both insurance companies in case someone tries to lie about what happened.

About author : This guide was written by Steven Weinberg, auto insurance expert at’s site and journalist for a regional newspaper. Steven resides in Lynchburg, Virginia and is licensed in over 46 states of the US.

Vijayraj Reddy
Vijayraj Reddy is founder & editor-in-chief of, a financial blog which helps people to earn money, invest money and save money. You can find him on Facebook & Twitter or send him email at [email protected]

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2 Responses to “Five Steps to Filing an Auto Insurance Claim After an Accident”

  1. Drew Mack says:

    One step not mentioned was “contact your lawyer”. A lot of people don’t understand the legal jargon behind all this insurance information. If ever anything gets too confusing for you, you should always contact your lawyer so you don’t mess up the claims process!

  2. linda says:

    thanks for these tips…as my husband needs to file a claim for the accident he met 2 days ago…this post is going to be helpful for my husband…i’ll make sure he goes through this

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