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Tips for filing an insurance claim

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Any time you have a reason to contact your insurance company to file a claim, it’s likely you’ll experience or anticipate a stressful situation. Many people worry their insurance company is going to reject their claim altogether or that they’re not going to get enough money for repairs. 

While these are legitimate concerns, there are many things you can do to make filing a claim less stressful. That said, filing a claim can even be quite a rewarding experience. You just have to know what you’re doing.

Here’s what you need to know in order to ensure a more successful claims experience.

Mistakes to avoid when filing a claim

  • Not understanding your auto insurance policy
  • Not promptly filing a claim
  • Losing the claim number
  • Not submitting follow-up paperwork in timely manner
  • Being rude or aggressive with your insurance company
  • Not keeping track of what you spend on necessary repairs prior to payout

The key mistake and most important thing you want to avoid is not understanding your policy. Should all things insurance-related baffle you, never be afraid to pick up your phone and call your insurance company. 

Ask to speak with an agent (either over the phone or in-person) so that you can understand your policy’s ins and outs. Auto insurance isn’t free after all, so you should know what your coverage includes.

Once you know what your policy specifically covers, you’ll have a much more  satisfactory collision claims experience because your expectations will be calibrated. Most people who have negative experiences with their insurer (and who then march to the internet to decry the company) usually have a misunderstanding about insurance coverage in general. This is why it’s so important to understand what you’re signing up for at the outset of obtaining your policy. 

Tips for filing an insurance claim

When a car accident occurs, each involved party has to spend a lot of time and energy getting their car fixed after the accident. Insurance procedures, collision repair shops, and claims adjusters availability all affect how quickly and how well the claim is handled. However, navigating the claims process and the process of repairing a car can be difficult. It’s actually much more simple than some think, as long as you know what you’re in for.

1. Know your policy.

  • Understand what your policy covers, what deductibles apply, and what your responsibilities are when an accident occurs. Plus, it’s a smart strategy to have the deductible set aside in your savings account at all times in the event of an unexpected claim.
  • Verify that you have the proper coverage now before you need it. Always check on your daily max dollar amount, and find out if there’s a limit to the amount of days you can rent a car.

2. Choosing the right insurance carrier

  • You will want to be sure that the company you work with is in good standing (both financially and with consumers). Two places you can go to compare providers are AM Best for a third party financial rating and J.D. Power for customer satisfaction. 
  • A company’s financial rating is important because it can reflect how likely it will promptly pay out a claim. Insurance companies with a poor financial rating might dispute payout value or delay claim resolution.
  • Customer satisfaction is self explanatory, of course. Oftentimes people opt for the Better Business Bureau to get information on a company instead of going with JD Power. Though BBB is a solid company, just keep in mind that people usually only go there to air their grievances. J.D. Power instead targets random consumers regardless of claim experience— meaning you’ll get a better idea of what you can expect should you decide to work with a particular company. 

3. Keep in touch with your claims adjuster.

  • Make sure you place your report with your insurance company immediately so that your claim can be assigned quickly.
  • Claims adjusters are just as overworked and busy as anyone else in the workforce today. Keep in touch so that your claim doesn’t get shuffled to the bottom of the pile. This will result in better communication and quicker claim payments.

The Takeaway

  • Understand what your policy covers
  • If you are confused, speak with an agent
  • Research your insurance company before you need it
  • Always promptly file a claim
  • Stay in contact with your claims adjuster


Don’t let an accident be the first time you think about your insurance policy. Take charge by having a copy readily available nearby so that you can read over it and jot down thoughts and concerns. Most importantly, use your voice during the acquisition of a policy and during the claims process. 

Ask questions, tell your insurance company exactly what you need, and make an appointment to speak with an agent so that you can ensure you have the best policy for your needs.

Lauren Ward

Lauren Ward is a writer for Coverage.com. She specializes in all things personal finance, including insurance, loans, and real estate.

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