What Happens After You File a Car Insurance Claim?


Getting into a car accident is stressful enough. Then begins the process of filing a claim with your insurance company. It can be confusing to understand what follows. Let's unravel the steps that typically occur after you initiate a car insurance claim.

What Happens After You File a Car Insurance Claim

1. Contacting Your Insurance Company

The first step is to promptly notify your insurer. You can file a claim online, over the phone, or using your car insurance company's app. Most insurers have deadlines for reporting accidents, so check your policy. While filing the claim, provide basic information including:

  • Your policy number
  • Date, time, and location of the incident
  • Description of what happened
  • Information about any other drivers/vehicles involved
  • Contact information for those involved and witnesses

2. Investigation by a Claims Adjuster

An adjuster will be assigned by your insurance provider to look into your claim. The adjuster will:

Gather Information: They'll review police reports, contact you and any other involved parties, collect witness statements, and possibly examine photos of the damage.

Determine Fault: Based on the gathered evidence, the adjuster will assess who was at fault and to what degree. This determination impacts how your claim is processed.

Estimate Damages: The adjuster will get multiple estimates of the cost to either repair your vehicle or, if it's totaled (damage exceeds a certain percentage of its value), the cost to replace it.

3. The Insurance Company's Decision

After a thorough investigation, your insurance company will decide whether to accept or deny your claim. Reasons for denial might include:

  • Your policy not covering the type of damage sustained
  • Your policy having lapsed due to missed payments
  • The accident resulting from excluded circumstances (e.g., driving under the influence)

4. Getting Your Car Repaired

You can proceed with repairs if your claim is accepted:

  • Choosing a Repair Shop: You may be free to choose any shop, but some insurers have preferred providers, offering incentives for using them.
  • Rental Car Coverage: If your policy includes it, you might be eligible for a rental car while yours is being repaired.
  • Handling the Deductible: Your deductible is the amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurance covers the remaining repair costs.

5. Payment for the Claim

How the payment is handled depends on several factors:

  • Policy Coverage: The coverage types you selected influence the amount your insurer will pay.
  • Fault: If another driver was at fault, your insurer may attempt to recover the costs from their insurance (this is called subrogation).
  • Payment Method: Your insurer might pay the repair shop directly, reimburse you after repairs, or issue payment jointly to you and your lender (if you have a car loan).


How long does it take to settle a claim? This varies. Minor claims with clear liability can settle quickly, while complex cases may take longer.

Will my premiums increase? Possibly. Your insurer considers your claim history when setting rates.

Can I dispute the insurance company's decision? Yes, most insurers have an appeals process. You might also be able to register a grievance with the insurance department of your state.


Though the car insurance claim process can be complex, understanding the basic steps helps you navigate it more smoothly. Stay informed, communicate clearly with your insurer, and understand your policy coverage to ensure the best possible outcome.

Let me know if you'd like any images added or a specific aspect of the process explored in more detail!