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How to File an Auto Insurance Claim

December 14, 2010

Your auto insurance policy protects you from financial losses as a result of motor vehicle accidents. As unpleasant as the prospect of an accident is, car accidents are, unfortunately a more common occurrence than one might think. If you find yourself the victim of an accident, or even at fault in the event of a collision, you must report the event to the police, as well as to your insurance company.

At The Scene

When the police arrive on the scene they will fill out an accident report and provide a copy of the report to each party involved. This report will list each driver’s information, including their insurance policy number. It will also have a file number recorded on it. You should take this police report to your insurance company so that they have a copy to use in their determinations. The police report will also state who is at fault – from the officer’s point of view. Your insurance company will take down all pertinent information relating to the accident; they will record the date and time, who was involved, and what happened. Make sure that you provide your car insurance company with any documentation you have relating to the event. This includes any receipts, invoices, or medical bills. This information is given to the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim by your insurance provider.

Determining Fault

The insurance adjuster will contact you personally, usually by phone, to complete the investigation of the claim. In order to determine who is at fault for the accident, the insurance adjuster must, by law, follow the rules and regulations as outlined by the Insurance Act. This involves reviewing several scenarios and diagrams to determine which one most closely resembles your accident. Once this has been reviewed and a determination is made, the adjuster will assign fault. Fault can be attributed in any ratio to any of the parties involved. This determines how the claim will be paid out. You will likely be asked to provide “proof of loss” within a specified amount of time. If a driver is found to be at fault for someone else’s injuries or damage to someone else’s property, then a claim is entered against the responsible person’s liability insurance.

Assessing Your Damages

If you are involved in a collision and your vehicle is damaged, the insurance adjuster must calculate the value of your vehicle and determine if it is worth repairing. If the cost of repairs far outweighs the value of the vehicle, then it may be deemed a total loss. In this case, the vehicle will not be repaired, and the owner will be paid out the amount that the adjuster has calculated the actual cash value to be. The settlement will be released to the owner of the vehicle and any lien holders against the vehicle (if the vehicle is not owned outright). This could include a leasing or finance company.

Disputing the Resolution and Compensation

If you disagree with the decision of the insurance adjuster, there are options to express your disagreement and have the issue reviewed. As the insured party, if you wish to dispute the decision of the adjuster, you may request a review. There must be additional information available to influence the review of the decision. If the outcome is still not satisfactory, then the claim may be escalated by contacting an arbitrator. This unbiased third party will review the claim and the adjuster’s decisions and make their own decision based on all the information provided. No matter the conclusion, both the insurance company and the insured must abide by the arbitrator’s decision.

Your car insurance in Canada will protect your rights and your finances in the event of an accident. Knowing how to file a claim is the first step to getting the reimbursement that you deserve. If you have more specific questions regarding your policy contact your insurance provider to get the facts.