Understanding Car Insurance: How the Claim Process Works

Filing a claim is less stressful when you know what to expect.


Car crashes can be scary, but the claim process to repair your vehicle doesn’t have to be. Here’s how it works:

Soon after the crash

1. Report the incident to your insurance company.

If you didn’t already do this from the scene of the crash, do it as soon as you can. Your insurance card or mobile app has the number to use. (If you have insurance through AAA, see below for how you can use the AAA Mobile app to file a claim.)

Get more tips for what to do in a car accident or breakdown.

Learn More

2. Give details.

Provide as much information about the crash as possible—things like where and when it happened; photos; names of other drivers, witnesses and responding police officers; license numbers for all the vehicles; and the other driver’s insurance company (in the event they are at fault).

3. Protect the car from further damage.

If there are broken windows, for example, you’ll need to keep rain from getting in, because any damage that happens after you make the report may not be covered.

During the claim process

1. Work with the adjuster.

A claim adjuster from your insurance company will contact you to review your coverage and the deductibles that apply. They’ll also talk with the other people involved in the collision and work with their insurance companies.

2. Review rental options.

If your car is not drivable, and you have coverage for a rental, the claim adjuster can help you make arrangements and tell you how long you’re allowed to keep the rental car.

3. Schedule repairs.

An appraiser will assess the damage to your car and can help set up repairs, but the choice of where to get those repairs made is always up to you.

4. Get updates.

A lot of the settlement process happens without your direct involvement, so there may be times when you don’t know what’s being done. If you have questions, ask your claim adjuster for information.

5. Make sure you’re satisfied.

If you aren’t happy with any part of the claim process—you can’t reach a settlement agreement with your adjuster, for example—ask to talk to a manager.

Had a crash and have insurance through AAA?

Filing an insurance claim online with AAA is fast and easy. It takes just a few steps. If you haven’t already, go to AAA.com/Mobile to download and install the AAA Mobile app. In the app, register your insurance policies: auto, home, etc.


Speed things up with AAA Accelerate

Getting an estimate for the repairs could be a snap—literally. If your car qualifies (we’ll let you know when you report the loss), you can use your smartphone to take photos of the damage. Then, submit them to AAA using AAA Accelerate in the AAA Mobile app. You’ll get a quick repair estimate without having to leave your car at the shop or wait on a claim adjuster to inspect it. There’s even the option of having the insurance payment deposited directly into your checking account, making for easy payment of the repair bill.

Keep reading in: