What you need to know about auto insurance claims
Insurance is one of those things you’re glad to have but hope you’ll never have to use, like the oxygen masks in an airplane or a fire extinguisher in an apartment building. However, life happens, accidents happen, and it’s not unusual to expect that at some point in your life, you’re going to be quite happy that you have auto insurance.
In Canada, having auto insurance is mandatory, although the nature and extent of the coverage vary by province and territory. Even rental cars require insurance! In general, you’re required to at the very least have liability insurance, which covers any damages you cause to other vehicles, people, and property, as well as some type of injury protection which covers medical costs in case you injure yourself. Keep in mind that this kind of baseline coverage does not protect your car or your belongings in your car in case of theft, loss, or vandalism. That’s why it’s always important to think carefully about what kind of protection you want and search for the policy that best meets those needs.
Of course, one hopes to never have to rely on this protection. But let’s say you’re driving on an icy winter morning and try to turn into your driveway, only to feel your car veering towards your neighbor’s fence as your tires start sliding on the frozen ground. You ram into the fence, damaging the fence and leaving a nasty scratch and perhaps even a bump or two on your car. Not a great situation, but it can happen. Thankfully you’ve got insurance! But before you make a claim, there are a couple of things to consider.
What to consider before filing an auto insurance claim
Here’s the tricky thing about insurance claims: Every claim is a mark on your record, and the more claims you make, the riskier you’ll appear to insurance providers. And if it’s one thing insurers hate above all else, it’s a risk. The more claims you have, the higher your monthly premiums will be since insurers will consider you a high risk and charge more. If you have a lot of claims, it might even be hard to find a provider willing to insure you at all.
As such, you should really consider whether it’s worth filing a claim if the damage is only minimal and you could easily repair it out of pocket. The situation changes slightly if the damages incurred weren’t your fault. So if you were hit while parked in a legal spot, your insurance may not alter your premium, since you didn’t cause the damage.
How to file an auto insurance claim
If you do find yourself needing to file a claim, the process is pretty straightforward. However, if a crime has occurred, such as your car being stolen or vandalized, you should first file a police report before contacting your insurance.
In every other case, you’ll need to reach out to your insurance and let them know that you’d like to file a claim. You’ll have to provide your insurance policy number, as well as the insurance information of the other driver if another vehicle was involved. In most cases, it’s possible to do this online. Here’s how to ensure the process is as seamless as possible:
Write down every detail
Try to write down exactly what happened right after the incident, so that you don’t forget important details later on. Who was involved, how did the accident happen, and where did it happen? Who was with you at the time? Was there anyone around who could serve as a witness? Memory is fallible, and you’ll find it harder to remember important details the more that time passes.
It can be extremely helpful to take photographs of the scene and the damage so that your insurer has an accurate picture of what happened. In an ideal scenario, you’ll have “before” pictures of your car to show your provider how the car was damaged after the incident.
Keep a record of all communications
Make sure to keep a written record of all communications, whether it’s with the other driver involved in the claim, the police, mechanics, or your insurance provider. Keeping a record of all communications surrounding the case allows you to keep an overview of all parties involved in the claim while also protecting you in case of miscommunications or misunderstandings.
Once your insurance provider has received all the information they require, they’ll make the decision to either accept or reject your claim. If they reject it, you’re responsible for paying for the damages yourself. If they accept it, your insurer will cover the damages to the extent that your policy foresees. So in the case of the damaged neighbor’s fence we outlined above, your insurance would most likely cover the damages to the fence, since it would fall under the basic liability coverage. However, unless you also have coverage that protects your vehicle, you may have to pay to get the damage to your car fixed.
If you’re looking for an auto insurance policy that provides the coverage you need at the price that’s right for you, then we’ve got you covered. With YouSet, all you have to do is answer a couple of questions before getting a personalized list of policies that best suit your needs, with a best-price guarantee. Once you find one you love, you can purchase it right on our site. Curious? Come check us out!
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