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Auto Insurance Claims: A Step by Step Guide

September 30, 2020


After you have been in a collision, assuming you yourself are OK with no serious injuries, your first thought may be how stressful and time consuming it’s going to be to deal with the insurance adjusters and claim forms. Indeed, this process can be more stressful than the accident was! It’s important to be optimistic and patient. Ask your auto body repair shop if they help with filing insurance claims. Hint: we do!

Filing claims and waiting on the decisions from the insurance company can be daunting, but it’s an easier process than you assume if you take it step by step. Whether to file a claim after an accident will depend on the kind of insurance coverage you carry, says WalletHub, as well as who is at fault.

What to Expect

A general rule of thumb? If your damages are less than your deductible, it’s not really worth going through the trouble of filing a claim for a low payout—if you even receive one at all.

The dollar amount of claims per vehicle per year, AKA the “loss cost,” is rising in this country, says the Insurance Information Institute. Loss costs are the biggest component of the price of auto insurance, and they also happen to be the most volatile.

Here’s what to expect:

Step 1: Check yourself for injuries

If you have suffered an injury, call 911. Wait for emergency personnel and don’t move if you have been seriously injured.

Step 2: Check your passengers

If you can, check on the other passengers. If anyone is injured, call 911.

Step 3: Get to safety

If you can, move to the side of the road or at least to a sidewalk. If it’s safe to drive your car and it’s creating a hazard where it currently rests, pull to the side of the road.

Step 4: Call the police

It’s not up to you to decide how serious a crash is. Whether a fender bender or major collision, call the police. Responding officers will complete an accident report and take notes at the scene. Your insurance company will want a copy of the police report to assist them with the claims process.

Step 6: Exchange information

Next, exchange contact and insurance information with the driver of the other car. You will want to provide this information and get theirs as well:

  • Name and contact information
  • Insurance company and policy number
  • Driver’s license and plate number
  • Make, model and color of vehicle
  • Location of accident

You should not take this time to discuss fault when talking about the accident with the other driver. When filing an insurance claim, the adjuster who reviews your claim will determine who was at fault after performing an inspection of the vehicles, information from all parties involved, and supporting documentation, such as photos of the scene or the police report.

Step 7: Document the accident

To protect yourself, take the following steps:

  • Identify the officers, asking for their names and badge numbers
  • Ask where you can obtain a copy of the police officer’s accident report. Your insurance company will want a copy for the car insurance claim.
  • Document the accident scene, taking pictures of your vehicle from many different angles to show the damage done to both vehicles. Snap a photo of the other driver’s license plate.
  • Talk to witnesses, take their names and get their contact information.

Step 8: Notify your insurer to start the claims process

If you can do so, call your insurance agent while still at the scene. This will allow them to tell you exactly what will be needed to process your claim. They will also outline what to expect as part of the claims process and any next steps you’re responsible for.

To be sure, accidents leave even the most seasoned driver upset and frazzled, but following the above steps can protect you from unnecessary stress. Now, you’re free to focus on working alongside your insurance company to get your vehicle repaired as quickly as possible.

How We Help

Here at Hance’s Uptown Collision Center, we frequently file claims for our customers and get their vehicles back to “pre-loss” condition affordably but correctly. Our relationship is with you and your vehicle, rather than with the insurance company. We tell the insurance company what it will take to safely and properly repair your vehicle. We are Automotive Collision Experts and use all OEM Procedures and I-Car standards designed to return your car to a safe “Pre-Loss Condition” as specified by the manufacturer.

Ready to learn more? Contact us in Dallas or Plano today!

    Contact Us


    4829 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75205


    1201 E Plano Parkway, Plano, TX 75074