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How to File a Car Insurance Claim After an Accident

April 26, 2021
3 mins
A man holds his head in one hand looking overwhelmed as he works on his computer

Few things are more upsetting than being involved in a car accident.

Hopefully, you'll never be in an accident and need to file an insurance claim. But if it does happen and you must file a car insurance claim, you need to notify your broker or insurance company within seven days of the accident. If you don’t, your claim may not be honoured.

Whether the accident was a minor fender-bender or a more serious collision, your auto policy will pay for damages, depending on the types of coverages you have. For instance, if you have optional collision coverage, it will pay for damages to your vehicle. If it is determined you are at fault for the accident, you will need to pay a deductible before your insurer pays out.

Above all else, it’s important to stay calm and ensure everyone is safe after getting into a car accident.

It’s commonplace nowadays to file an auto claim online or through your insurer’s mobile app if they have one. Regardless, here are some things to remember that will help make the claims-filing process easier:

Call the police

Always report a car accident to the police if someone is injured, if the damage to both vehicles is more than $2,000, or if you suspect a driver may be guilty of a criminal offence like impaired driving. You are also required to call the police if the accident involves a pedestrian or cyclist, a government vehicle, an uninsured driver, an unlicensed driver, or if there is damage to private or public property.

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What your insurer needs to know when filing an auto claim

Take notes at the scene that include details of the accident, including where and when it happened. Take pictures or a video of the scene if possible. When filing your claim, you will also need to provide your insurer with:

  • Your insurance policy number.
  • A description of the accident. Did the accident occur in poor weather conditions? Be sure to include that detail as well.
  • The names and driver’s licence numbers of all drivers involved.
  • The year, make, and model of the vehicles involved and their licence plate numbers.
  • The police officer’s information or the corresponding accident report number if the accident was reported to the police.

Do not take responsibility for the accident at the scene or assume you are liable. Fault for the accident will be determined by your insurer based on your province’s fault determination rules. Don't accept money from another driver, and don't agree to forget about the accident.

Ask your insurer where to get your vehicle fixed

If your vehicle requires repairs, ask your insurance company if they have a list of preferred repair shops in your area. Sometimes insurance companies have partnerships in place with repair shops that make processing the claim and getting your car repaired faster.

Ensure that your insurance company agrees to pay for all repairs before you have the work completed and find out how your insurer handles supplemental repairs if the repair shop finds more damage to your car than the original estimate states.

Check all repairs to your vehicle

After your vehicle is fixed, take the time at the auto shop to inspect the repair work, and get a receipt from the shop that details all the work they completed. Make sure that the name and address of the shop are identified on the receipt. You might need to submit the final bill to your car insurance provider.

Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile, seasoned writer and editor. He worked as both a staff writer and freelance writer for many business and technology publications as well as for several newspapers. He writes about home, auto, and travel insurance, and is a media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA.

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