Car Insurance Claims

When your car is damaged, you need to know what to do and how to deal with your insurance company. Learn what your policy covers, how to file a claim, and what to watch out for here.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When is a car considered totaled?

    Whether your car is considered totaled after an accident depends on the state you live in, how your insurer calculates the cost of the damages, and how much your car is worth. For instance, a vehicle may be considered a total loss if the cost to repair it exceeds 80% of it’s value. Note that comprehensive and collision coverages will pay to repair or replace your car; liability won’t.

  • What should you do if your car is broken into?

    First, make sure you’re safe. Then, file a police report. You’ll want this report if you file any claims with your insurance company. Document what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind: List all missing items and take pictures of any damage. Your car insurance might only cover the damage to your vehicle, but your home or renters policy should pay to replace stolen items. 

  • Do you have to repair your car after an insurance claim?

    The answer is: It depends. If you have a loan on your vehicle, the lender will require you to make the repairs. And “you,” doesn’t mean you personally. They’ll either assign a mechanic or need to approve one you choose. If you own the car outright, your insurer might require that you complete repairs in order to keep comprehensive and/or collision coverage.

  • How long does an insurance claim take?

    How long your claim takes depends on what type of claim you filed, how soon after the incident you filed the claim, and how good your communication is with the adjuster. Expect claims that require more work, more investigation, or more negotiation with another insurance company to take longer. Also, be sure it’s in your best interest to file a claim in the first place.

  • What type of car insurance covers flood damage?

    If you want insurance on your vehicle for flood damage, you need to carry comprehensive insurance coverage. But if you wait to buy coverage just before a storm hits, you may be out of luck. Insurers are wise to this and often restrict certain insurance purchases once a warning is in effect. Keep in mind that water damage from a window left open or an ongoing leak may not be covered.

  • What is in a police accident report?

    If you get into an accident with another driver, you may need (or want) the police accident report to file a claim with your insurer. It contains the date, time, and location of the crash; the drivers, vehicles, and passengers involved; any witnesses; and information about the accident. If the crash is minor and officers decline to come to the scene, you may be able to file a crash report online.

Key Terms

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