Things You'll Need
Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible when you know that you will be filing a claim against the insurance company. The same is true if you were involved in an accident and you expect that the other driver(s) may file a claim against your insurance company.
Plan for the deductible amount you will be required to pay.
If you are at fault for the accident then check your policy or with your insurance agent to find out how much your collision deductible will set you back. If the cost of the repair exceeds the deductible, your insurance company will cover the additional costs if they are within policy limits.
If the accident was caused by another driver, your insurance company will take the lead in getting the costs of the repairs covered. They will use subrogation or act legally in your behalf to recover the costs of your repairs including the deductible. If the driver who caused the accident did not have insurance or was underinsured, you may have to pay the collision deductible.
If your car requires repairs, you should expect that your vehicle is restored to the condition it was in just before the accident.
Your insurance company may try to require you to take your car to a specific collision shop, if so the insurance company must guarantee the shop's work and assess no extra cost to you.
The insurance company may be allowed to use used parts if your car is not within the current model year. Check the written estimate to find out the origin of the parts. If the estimate does not include details of the parts then make them rewrite it for you. If new parts are readily available and the repair shop is trying to fix your car with used parts, then insist they provide new parts and tell them where to find the parts. For older cars finding new parts may be impossible. Insist on OEM parts not generic parts. The insurance company may be able
to substitute generic parts for OEM parts if it is stated in your policy. If the accident is not your fault stand strong in your insistence.
Try to get a rental car paid for by the insurance company.
If another driver damaged your car and you have a liability claim against their insurance, most states require the other driver's insurance to pay the rental cost of a similar vehicle during the repair of your vehicle.
If your vehicle is totaled, they may not be required to pay for a rental car, prior to you receiving final settlement, but insist anyway. It is in their best interest to avoid causing you added expense. If they are not willing to cooperate it is one more reason to seek legal council.
If the accident is your fault, the only way you will be able to receive reimbursement for a rental vehicle is if you have rental car insurance covered in your policy.
Once you have a settlement offer from the insurance company make sure that the amount will cover the damage bill. Try to first talk to the adjuster if you do not agree with the settlement offer. If you cannot come to an agreement, then talk to the claims supervisor. If you still cannot agree talk to your insurance agent if the accident was your fault. If the accident was another driver's fault you can either consult with an attorney or take the other driver to small claims court. Most states have a small claims maximum in the range or $3000-$5000, so first check with the county court where the accident occurred to find out the limit.
Once you accept the settlement you typically have at least 30 days to report either a problem with the settlement covering the expenses or additional damage caused by the accident that the service shop did not repair. Many shops do, however, will provide some type of warranty for the repairs they made. Talk to the insurance adjuster regarding any problems with your claim as soon as possible.