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What to expect when you have to file an insurance claim

By January 27, 2023January 30th, 2023Personal Insurance

So you have an insurance claim. Now what? Working in the insurance industry, the SBI team knows that the day you have to make an insurance claim is usually not the best day. But we also know that’s what insurance is for — “stuff happens,” and we’re here to help. Let’s walk through what happens from the moment of your accident or loss, to how the claim might affect your insurance policy going forward.

Beginning the claims process

The majority of our insurance companies have 24/7 claim centers. Typically, we recommend you call the insurance company with which you have the claim directly, and report it to an authorized representative. 

That being said, there are some advantages to calling your independent insurance agent to speak about your claim. At SBI, our dedicated agents can advise you on what the effects of filing your claim might be and help you understand how the claims process works. It’s important at this stage in the process to review your coverage and make sure you’re clear on exactly what is covered, and what is not. We can help with that as well. Our goal is to take the headache out of what already is a painful process. In an emergency, however, you should call your insurance provider directly in order to expedite the process. 

Investigating the claim 

Once you’ve filed a new claim, your insurance carrier will begin gathering the necessary information to process the claim. They will reach out to you for details and an official statement regarding the incident, as well as reaching out to any other parties involved (such as witnesses or the other driver in a two-vehicle car accident). Depending on the type of loss and the situation, you may be asked to provide documentation including original receipts for items lost, medical bills, and loss of wages. 

In an auto accident claim, an adjuster will assess the damage to your car and the other vehicle(s) involved, and either write an estimate for the cost of the repairs, or the replacement of your vehicle. Typically, insurance companies pay out the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of your vehicle, but check your policy for specifics. Similarly, with a home insurance claim, the adjustor will examine the damage to your home and provdie an estimate for repairs. If items in your home were damaged, having a home inventory will make this part of the process go much more smoothly.

Resolving the claim and issuing payment

Once you agree to the settement offer provided by the insurance adjustor, payment will be issued. How and when the payment gets made will depend on the type of claim and your speicfic situation. For example, if you’re dealing with an auto insurance claim and you own your car outright, the check may come straight to you. If your care is totaled but you still owe money on it, your insurance company will likely send the check to your lender. If you’re getting repairs done, the body shop may receive direct payment from your insurer. For homeowners insurance claims, you may end up receiving multiple checks for different portions of work, or contractors may get paid directly. If you’re receiving money to replace lost items, many companies require you to purchase the replacement item first, and then be reimbursed. Talk to your insurance agent or insurance carrier to find out exactly how and when you can expect to receive payment. 

How will a claim affect my rates going forward?

It is true that claims can have an impact on the rating of your policy and the cost of your premiums. The impact depends on the severity of the claim and if you were at fault. Tickets and accidents will impact your premiums for a three-year period while major tickets such as DUIs and careless driving can impact your rates for five years.

Even with the best insurance coverage, submitting a claim is not usually a pleasant process. However, if you know what to expect and have a knowledgeable agent on your side, it can be relatively painless. 

Do you have questions about your coverage or the claims process? Reach out– we’d be happy to help. 

Author Tim Bauer

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