How do car insurance claims work?

Metromile makes it easy to file an auto insurance claim. Here’s how it works and what you can expect if you need to file a claim.

After getting into a car accident or having your car stolen, it’s normal to feel pretty shaken up. After the shock wears off and you ensure everyone involved is okay, it’s time to deal with the not-so-fun part — filing a car insurance claim. 

It can be tough to deal with everything you have to do, and you might have a lot of questions. In this guide, learn about the car insurance claim procedure and what you need to know to get started. 

How do auto insurance claims work?

After a car accident or instance of car theft or damage, you generally need to file a car insurance claim. As part of the insurance claim process for car accidents, vehicle damage, or personal injury, you will want to get in touch with your insurance company and provide details about what happened. 

The car insurance claims process can differ depending on the nature of the event. For example, the insurance claim process for car accidents will be different from a stolen car insurance claim investigation. Typically you’ll need the following information to get started:

  • Names and contact information for everyone involved
  • Insurance policies for both parties (as part of a car accident claim procedure compared to a stolen car insurance claim investigation)
  • The date, time, and location of the incident
  • Photos of any damage 
  • A copy of the police or accident report

When you file a claim with a car insurance company, you’ll get assigned a claims adjuster. The adjuster will review all of the information and determine which party is at fault. In some states, an insurance company can find you partially at fault and therefore partially responsible.

The claims specialist will help determine who’s at fault. If you disagree with the settlement, you can get started with the car insurance claim dispute process.

If the other party is at fault, your insurance company may seek payments from the other insurance provider. If you’re deemed at fault, you’ll need to pay your car insurance deductible. 

How do car insurance deductibles work? 

A car insurance deductible is an amount you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance company covers anything. So let’s say you had a $1,000 deductible, and the damage to your car would cost $3,000, your car insurance provider would cover $2,000 for the repairs. 

It’s important to know how much your deductible is and what type of coverage you have, such as collision coverage or comprehensive coverage

Frequently asked questions about car insurance claims 

You might have a lot of questions about how auto insurance claims work, so here are some answers to some common FAQs. 

Do I need to file an auto insurance claim?

Yes, in most cases, it is advised to file a car insurance claim. 

You must report and file a claim if there has been an accident. If there are minimal damages and no injuries, some people think it’s a good idea to settle with the other party (Hint: it’s often not). You could open yourself up to trouble down the line if they realize the damage is more than they initially realized, and your car insurance company may not cover you since you didn’t report it. 

If the damage to your car is minor, for example, scraping the side door, and no one else is involved, you generally don’t need to file a claim. The cost of repair may be less than your car insurance deductible, which means you’ll have to pay for any necessary fixes out of pocket. 

When do I file an auto insurance claim?

You need to file a claim if there has been an accident or injury involving another party as soon as possible. 

If you’ve experienced car theft, file a claim quickly so your car insurance can get started with a stolen car insurance claim investigation.

Should I file a claim with my insurance or the other person’s insurance?

If a car accident is your fault, you’ll want to file a claim with your own insurance company. 

If you’re not at fault and have collision coverage, it’s a good idea to file a claim with your own insurance company. This is a good route if the other party isn’t cooperative or has issues with their insurance. 

Lastly, if you’re not at fault and want to avoid paying your car deductible, you can file a claim with the other party’s insurance. 

Should I use my insurance company’s network of repair shops?

After a car accident, your car insurance company may refer you to a network of repair shops to help fix the damaged vehicle. These repair shops are vetted and help keep costs affordable, but you’re not required to use them. If you have another repair shop you’d rather work with, you can do so. 

Some people may get a payout if there is a total loss when the cost of repairs exceeds the vehicle’s value, so you may not need to visit a repair shop. 

How long do I have before I need to file an auto insurance claim? 

You should file a claim with your car insurance provider as soon as possible after an accident. Consult with your insurance policy to see about file claim deadlines. 

Why the vehicle insurance claim process is important 

Whether you’re in an accident or dealing with car theft or some other issue, the car insurance claim process is important for a number of reasons. Car insurance can provide financial support or peace of mind during a difficult time.

The auto insurance claims process should ideally be easy to manage, but often, it can lead to a lot of back and forth. That’s why Metromile set out to create a car insurance claim procedure that is different from the rest. 

How car insurance claims work with Metromile

Traditional car insurance companies treat filing a claim differently than Metromile. Notably, Metromile aims to save you the hassle by using technology to help you with the car accident insurance claim procedure. In some cases, your entire claim could be completely automated, meaning you can be made whole again more quickly.

We have AVA, which is Metromile’s AI claims system that can make the car insurance claims process easier than ever. AVA guides you through getting damage photos, collecting information, and even same-day payments for some claims. Using this innovative technology, you can resolve the issue at hand sooner. For example, AVA can help determine what actually happened and connect you with local repair shops or rental cars for your convenience. 

Our goal is to make auto insurance seamless. Because when you’re in a position when you need to file a claim, the last thing you need is to add any more stress to your plate. 

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.