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How do I File a Motor Accident Claim?

By Alicia Sparks
Updated May 17, 2024
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After you experience a car accident, determine whether you need to file a motor accident claim. Not all accidents require claims, and sometimes it’s more beneficial to handle the vehicle damage on your own. If the accident resulted in severe property damage or any personal injury, however, you should file a claim. The exact steps you take to file a motor accident claim will depend on your insurance company, your particular coverage policy, and even your local laws. In certain situations, it’s best to hire an accident attorney for insurance claim advice.

Before you file a motor accident claim, determine whether you really need or want to report the damage to your insurance company. Your insurance company keeps track of each motor accident claim you file, and some insurance companies penalize policyholders for having high numbers of filed claims. These penalties usually come in the form of higher insurance rates. Some insurance companies will refuse to renew a policy for a customer with a high number of claims. You could even have trouble getting coverage from another provider later on.

Fortunately, not every auto accident requires filing a motor accident claim. For example, if you backed your vehicle into a tree and need to replace the bumper, it might be less expensive and more beneficial for you to pay for the damage out of your own pocket. This is especially true if the cost to repair the vehicle damage is less than the cost of your insurance deductible. On the other hand, it’s best to file a motor accident claim if the vehicle was vandalized or stolen, or the motor vehicle accident involved another person and the property damage is significant or either party suffered personal injury. Some regions even have laws requiring motorists to file claims for any accidents that result in personal injury and property damage of a certain amount.

If you decide you need or want to file a motor accident claim, review your policy before you begin the process. Every insurance company has its own filing process in place, so if you don’t understand the terms in your policy or you don’t have a copy, contact your insurance agent or a company representative for specific details. Note that most companies place time limits on filing claims and require policyholders to complete certain paperwork. Many insurance companies and local governments also require copies of police reports and reports filed with the region’s agency that handles matters related to motor vehicles. Failing to correctly follow your company’s filing process could result in a denied claim or inadequate compensation, and failing to file the proper reports with your government agencies could result in legal consequences.

Aside from those requirements, it’s best to document everything related to the accident. Record the name, address, license plate number, and insurance information of all other parties involved. Also gather the names and contact information of people who witnessed the accident. Write a description of the accident, including how it happened, the location, and even the weather conditions. Take photos of all the property damage, and if you suffered personal injury, keep copies of all your related medical records and expenses.

Once you file the motor accident claim, a claims representative from your insurance company will work with you during the rest of the process. In order to determine the amount of compensation you receive, the representative will probably interview you several times. If you don’t feel comfortable working with the representative by yourself, consider seeking legal advice. Many motorists hire accident lawyers if the accident resulted in severe property damage of personal injury. You might also consider hiring an accident attorney if your claim is denied or you’re not satisfied with the compensation.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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