A guide to making a car insurance claim
Being involved in any kind of claim-worthy incident like an accident or theft is invariably very stressful. But don't panic - our quick guide will run you through exactly what you need to do and how to (where possible) protect your premiums from rising as a result.
In This Guide:
- Who should I call if I've had an accident?
- Do I need to make a claim?
- How to ensure you get the best deal on your insurance
- What if my car is written off?
Who should I call if I've had an accident?
If you’ve been involved in any kind of accident, no matter how severe, you should always contact both the police and your insurer.
The police should be notified within 24 hours of the incident, sooner if it is severe and/or anyone involved is injured as a result.
You should also contact your insurer as soon as possible to at least inform them of what has happened, even if you do not choose to ultimately make a claim. This is so that they are kept up to date regarding the status of your vehicle and is important in order to avoid any difficulties in the future such as accusations of fraud and/or refusal of cover.
You will often have a limited amount of time to contact your insurer after an incident, but this limit will vary from provider to provider so it is important to check your policy details or contact your insurance company to make your you are complying with their regulations.
When you do get in touch with your insurer, it is absolutely crucial that you make sure you’ve got all of the facts straight as any dishonesty at this stage may well constitute fraud and will invalidate your claim or worse, lead to fines or prosecution.
Do I need to make a claim?
You may find, if you’ve been driving for a long time without any incidents, that you are actually better off paying for small repairs yourself than you are by making a claim and potentially sacrificing a valuable no claims bonus.
You may find that the cost of repairs is far less than what you would be adding to your premium without the no claims discount, in which case it’s worth simply taking your car to the best value garage you can find.
As mentioned above though, even if you don’t decide to claim, make sure you contact your insurer and make it clear that you are informing them purely for this purpose and not to actually make a claim.
How to ensure you get the best deal on your insurance
If you do decide to claim, let your insurer know and they’ll provide you with a claim form which you should return to them, complete with any evidence you have (such as photos of any damage taken at the scene), as soon as possible. Always keep a copy of this form.
Depending on the severity of the accident, the car insurance company may send out one of their professional claims assessors, to check the damage and estimate repair costs. For this reason, it is important that you do not take your car to be repaired until you have heard back from your insurance provider otherwise they may not actually pay out.
Many policy holders will be entitled to a courtesy car at this stage, so check your policy documentation to see if this is the case, and then contact your provider to find out how you should go about getting hold of yours.
What if my car is written off?
If your car is damaged beyond repair, or the cost of repairs would equal or exceed the value of the vehicle itself, then your car is considered ‘written off’.
A similar process will be undergone if your car is stolen and not recovered.
In such a case, the insurer will pay out a sum equal to the value of the vehicle before the damage. The insurer will set this value, but if you strongly disagree with the valuation given, then you can always appeal it, either through the company themselves, or through the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Unfortunately, even if you don’t make a claim, you may still see your premiums go up since statistics show that once you’ve been involved in some kind of accident, the likelihood of being involved in another goes up.