Facing a situation where your vehicle has been damaged in a car accident can be stressful. Wouldn’t it be reassuring to have reliable legal guidance to assist you in dealing with property damage when no personal injuries were involved?
In this installment of Car Accident Property Damage: How-to Guide, Andrew Kryder, a seasoned Chicago car accident attorney in the law firm The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers, covers how to set up an auto claim for property damage on your own.
File a Claim with the Insurance Company
“We all live busy lives and we’ve got a lot to do. Not having a car is a huge, huge disadvantage. What you want to do,” Andy begins, “is put yourself in a position where you can make sure you’re getting the car fixed or replaced as fast as you can either through the at-fault insurance or as a fallback position through your own insurance.”
Andy tells you how to go about filing your claim. “After an accident, the first thing you need to do is set up a claim with the insurance company.” He explains, “If someone has hit you and they’re clearly at fault for the accident, you’re going to want to set up the claim with their insurance. They’re at fault—they should pay.”
Which Insurance Company Do I Submit a Property Damage Claim to After a Car Accident?
Have a Plan B and File an Auto Insurance Claim with Your Insurance Company
Andy continues, “But I’m also going to recommend that you set up a claim with your own [auto insurance policy]. You always need a Plan B. You never know how that insurance [adjuster] is going to view the accident, and if they deny it or try to say that it’s not totally their [client’s] fault, it’s going to affect the amount that you can receive.”
“So as a Plan B, you want to set it up with your insurance company so that you have a fallback position to put your property damage claim through your own insurance.”
“Therefore, it’s wise to view your own insurance company as a safety net—your Plan B. By filing a claim with them as well, you ensure a backup plan ready to use, should you need to process your property damage claim through your own policy.”
Andy concludes, “The other reason you want to do that is: if the at-fault insurance later denies the claim—for either a valid reason or an invalid reason—you’ve already got your claim set up with your own insurance so you’re not delaying things.”
Initiating a Car Insurance Claim
You can initiate your claim in a couple of ways, choosing what’s most convenient for you:
Filing Online Insurance Claims
“You can go online,” Andy begins. “Most insurance companies have an online portal now where you Google their name and you just follow the directions.”
Fill in the required information, Andy instructs, “Most of it from the police report—and then you’ll get a call from an [insurance] adjuster in a few days or maybe even hours.”
Calling the Property Damage Claims Department of the Insurance Company
“The other way you can do it is Google the phone number for the property damage claims department of the insurance that you need to set up the claim for.”
He continues, “They’re going to ask the same information—much of it from the police report—and then they’re going to give you a claim number.”
Once again, Andy says, “You’re going to get contacted later by an insurance representative and they’re probably going to tell you, ‘Take pictures of the vehicle, upload it through the portal, or email it to us.’ ”
Getting a Preliminary Estimate for Repairs
According to Andy, “In some situations, they’re going to direct you to a local body shop that they’re affiliated with to get an estimate done. [It’s] important to know it’s a preliminary estimate; . . . they may send an adjuster out to the vehicle. If it’s disabled in a tow yard, it’s kind of hard to get to, so they may actually send a physical representative out [to the location of your damaged car].”
Can the Car Be Fixed or Is It Totaled?
The purpose of all of this activity,” Andy concludes, “is to document how bad the damage is” and to answer the question, “Can the car be fixed or does it need to be replaced?”
“It all starts by setting up the claim with the insurance company [of the other driver] and, . . . set up a claim with your own insurance as . . . your Plan B fallback.”