Car Insurance Claims

A Guide to Making Car Insurance Claims

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If you've been in an accident and are thinking of making a claim on your insurance, here's what you need to know.

a car scraping against a bollard

I’ve had a car accident. Do I need to ring the police?

Contrary to popular belief, yes - even if you have been in involved in a very minor collision you should notify the police of the incident within 24 hours.

If your accident is serious or if anyone has been injured, you should contact the emergency services immediately.

When should I contact my insurer?

Being involved in an accident, or discovering that your vehicle has been vandalised or stolen, can be very stressful experiences. Only contact your insurer once you are calm enough to talk about what’s happened clearly.

It may be worth noting down what you want to say before you pick up the phone. The words you choose now could affect your ability to make a successful insurance claim later. Also, be sure to give your insurer the full facts. Failure to be honest about what happened could constitute insurance fraud.

Finally, find your insurance policy documents before calling your insurance company if you can. Having the right paperwork handy should help you get through to someone who can help you as quickly as possible.

Do I have to make an insurance claim?

No. Before you decide to make an insurance claim you should consider the value of your no claims bonus and the level of your total excess.

If your vehicle has been badly damaged, it’s likely a claims assessor will be sent to see you as soon as possible. He or she will estimate the repair costs and provide you with a list of approved garages

If you have a long history of driving without incident, it could be that losing some or all of your no claims discount alone will ultimately cost you more than paying for minor repairs to your vehicle - in which case you might decide not to make an insurance claim.

Also, you will pay for the first part of the claim’s cost, up to the level of your voluntary and compulsory excess combined. So if the overall bill is likely to be not much more than that, you could be decreasing your no claims discount unnecessarily

If I decide to claim on my insurance, what will happen?

If you decide to put in an insurance claim, your provider will send out a claim form. You’ll need to fill this in, enclosing any evidence that supports your claim - for instance, photographs taken at the scene of the accident on your mobile phone.

Make a copy of the form before you send it back to your insurer, and remember that it might be some time before you hear back from them.

If your vehicle has been badly damaged, it’s likely a claims assessor will be sent to see you as soon as possible. He or she will estimate the repair costs and provide you with a list of approved garages. Don’t be tempted to take your car for repair before this visit, as you may find your insurer refuses to pay out.

If your insurance policy includes provision of a courtesy car, you should find out how to get yours when you first speak to your provider on the phone.

What if my car is written off?

If your car is written off, your insurer will pay out a sum equal to its value before it was damaged or stolen.

Be aware that this value is unlikely to reflect what you paid for your car, particularly if it’s a relatively new vehicle. However, if you feel the valuation put on your car is too low it is worth appealing this with the company. If you still aren’t happy, you can take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Do I need to tell my insurer about an accident?

Even if you choose not to claim on your insurance you must still notify your provider that you’ve been involved in an accident, or that your car has been criminally damaged. Failure to be honest with your insurer now could result in your being refused cover, or accused of insurance fraud, later down the line.

Just be clear that you wish to provide the details for information purposes only, in order to prevent your insurer starting to process a claim on your behalf.

Most insurance companies set a time limit within which all motoring incidents must be reported to them - so check how long you have to contact your insurer and tell them about what’s happened, even if you’ve decided to pay for any car repairs yourself.

Will all of this affect the cost of next year’s car insurance?

If you’ve made an insurance claim, it’s possible you’ll have lost some or all of your no claims bonus. This could inflate the cost of your cover significantly next year, and it will be important for you to shop around in order to find the best deal.

Even if your no claims discount is protected - and even if you didn’t put in an insurance claim - it’s still possible you’ll see an increase in next year’s insurance premium. This is because insurance companies use data analysis to determine risk, which in turn affects the price of cover.

Once you’ve been involved in one motoring incident (or have been a victim of car crime), it’s statistically more likely to happen again - and in real life, this means you’ll pay more.

Again, the best way to combat a price rise is by comparing cheap car insurance deals from a variety of insurance providers. It may also be handy to take our driving theory test to see how your current driving standards are and to ensure that you have not picked up any of those bad habits. Passing this online test can be an indication that you are up to date with the current driving standards which could potentially reduce your risk of making a claim.

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