Whether it’s for the daily commute, doing the school run or picking up groceries, having a car is a necessity for many people these days. So it can be a daunting time when you’re left without a car during the claims process. In short: there is no set time for how long the process will take, and it varies case to case. However, understanding how the process works may help you speed it up.
How does the claims process work?
The first thing to know is that a claim is not dependent on just one person, and instead it has to pass through the hands of many people before everything is complete. This is just one of the reasons why it can take longer than anticipated.
Whether or not your claim is processed quickly is all down to the incident, how severe the damage is and how much information you provide when filing. You might find yourself having to answer questions that arise at a later date. Your claim will also pass through the hands of the claims adjuster who work with your insurance firm, and the body shop who will fix your car. Without adequate communication between all parties, the process can be dragged out.
What you should do
Have evidence: Make sure that you gather enough proof of what happened, whether that is taking pictures of any damage to your car and making notes of the timescale, or having a physical evaluation if you were injured. Having evidence ensures that the case is dealt with fairly, and no one can distort the facts to work in their favour.
File a police report: If you were involved in an incident with another driver be sure to alert the authorities as soon as possible-especially if the incident wasn’t your fault. If not the other driver may try and cast you as the one in the wrong.
File in time: The deadlines to file a claim after an accident vary from insurer to insurer, so be sure to know how long you have.
Don’t admit guilt: No matter what happened do not admit guilt, it the job of the insurance company and the police to decide who was responsible. Your insurer will always try and work in your favour, so leave it to the experts.
Things that can slow the insurance process down
Communication: If you aren’t available to answer the necessary questions, or there is a hold up on your insurer’s, this can really slow the process down. Make sure that all of your contact information is up to date, and that you answer all of your insurer’s questions thoroughly and honestly. Communication is key in making the process run as smooth as possible.
Any disputes: Perhaps you get your car back and the body shop forgot something, or you think something is off with the way your car drives after the repair. If you aren’t happy with the work that has been done to your car it’s best to be upfront about it, and make sure everything is perfect, rather than rush the process along. Or maybe you noticed some discrepancies in your policy that you weren’t aware of. Although bringing them up will slow down the process, it could save you some money and a headache later on.
Natural disaster claim: Was your car damaged in a crazy hail storm or waterlogged after a flood? If you find yourself making a claim after a natural occurrence, such as violent weather, then chances are a lot of people in your area are in the same boat. Expect insurers work load to reflect this, and try to be patient.
You can’t pay your deductible: Most car insurance policies require that you pay a deductible before your insurance covers the rest. Your deductible is determined by the amount of coverage you add to your policy, and you could have more than one. If you can’t afford to pay part or all of your deductible after an accident, your insurer may not be happy to complete the claim, and this can slow the entire process down.
What to do if the process takes longer than you had hoped
As you now know, a lot of things can go awry during the claims process, and unfortunately sometimes there isn’t a lot you can do to move things along. If you are left without a car many policies do have coverage options that mean they will supply you with a rental car-however this usually is at a partial cost to you, included in your premium. Alternatively, if you are stranded and in desperate need, you can always see if you can borrow a car from a family member or friends. Although coverage would automatically be extended to you, if you find yourself in an accident in their car, you should be the one to pay their deductible.
If neither of those things are an option, consider getting a little exercise in and joining the thousands of people now opting to use their bike as their main mode of transport, or check out your local transport network. While this might make journeys a little longer, you can feel good about lessening your impact on the environment.
No matter what, try to be patient and stay positive through the experience. If you do find that you aren’t happy with how your claims process went, then maybe it's time to look for a new insurer.