9 Dos and Don’ts When Filing a Car Insurance Claim
Keep calm and make a car insurance claim - the right way!
Accidents happen, from fender benders to major ones. Thankfully, a good car insurance policy can help alleviate some of the financial stressors that are borne out of a car accident.
If you have a ‘Comprehensive’ car insurance policy, you can file a claim to cover damages to your car whether you are at fault or not.
If you have a ‘Third Party’ or ‘Third Party, Fire and Theft’ plan, then do note that your policy covers the other driver or other party in the incident.
Which accident claims am I entitled to make?
This is an easy one - the moment you know you need to make a car insurance claim, you just need to find out if you’ll be claiming either:
- Own Damage Claim, or
- Third-Party Claim
The Bear can't stress enough how important it is to understand your auto insurance coverage.
Own Damage Claim
An own damage claim simply means that you’ll be making a car insurance claim against your own comprehensive car insurance policy. Speak to your insurance company and share all the details of what happened and let them take care of the rest.
Rest assured, your car insurance company will elect a proper adjuster to make sure that your needs are tended to at a panel workshop.
Do remember that it is likely that you will end up forfeiting your NCD (No-Claim Discount) and upon your next car insurance renewal, it will start at 0% again.
Also, with the detariffication of motor insurance in Malaysia, drivers may be assessed based on their risk profiles by their insurers and chances are, your accident history may be recorded.
If you are found by the authorities to be not at fault in the event of an accident, you can automatically make a third-party claim on the accident damages from the other party involved in the accident – which means you get to keep your NCD!
This is especially useful if you want to hold on to that 55% discount which you had amassed over years of safe driving!
To do so, you can either submit your claim directly with the insurance company of the third party found to be at fault, or you can submit the claim directly to your own insurance company and let them take care of it for you.
What about making a car theft claim?
Being involved in a car accident could be seen as an inconvenience. Losing your car to thieves? That’s an even bigger nightmare!
However, if you have a comprehensive car insurance policy (or a third-party, fire and theft policy), rest assured you can claim for the theft of your car. Having lodged your police report and informed your insurer about your loss, best to stay patient as investigations will need to be thoroughly carried out before a full result is disclosed. False insurance claims are no laughing matter!
On average, a car theft victim can expect payout in half a year. If the stolen vehicle was found before the compensation is made, the owner will take back the car and the insurer will be responsible for the repairs to get the car back in working condition.
However, if the vehicle was found after the compensation has been made, the car will go under the ownership of the insurer; after all the compensation to you has already been completed.
What can I claim for?
Your most important document remains your car insurance policy – which discloses how much coverage you are entitled to. There are two types of damages which you can make a claim for:
General damages pertain to compensation due to pain and suffering as a result of injuries sustained by a victim. For instance, if you and your car passengers were hurt in a collision, you can claim compensation for the injuries suffered from the party who caused the accident’s insurance company.
Do remember that the other party’s insurance will only compensate you if that driver was found to be at fault for causing the collision. Similarly, if you are found to be responsible partially, both you and your passengers will be compensated partially.
Special damages are straight forward. These are claims for expenses incurred due to the accident or mishap; for instance, transportation costs, the rental of another vehicle, and of course, medical expenses.
These are generally related to expenses that involves a monetary value incurred as a result of the accident.
Get to know your car insurance coverage and see if you have the right add-ons for the protection you need.
So, what do I need to be clear about when making a car insurance claim?
To help you figure out the claims procedure for a comprehensive plan or to claim from a third party’s insurance, here’s a list of the all-important do’s and don’ts:
- Keep your insurance information handy
When accidents happen, even minor ones; it’s normal to get a little frazzled or nervous. In these times, it might be difficult to scramble and look for your insurance information.
Thus, do write down the emergency hotline number provided by your insurance company, so you can call for roadside assistance or towing immediately.
It’s also a good idea to have a set of highway patrol phone numbers (of the highways you travel on most often) jotted down.
Keep a hard copy of these details in your car – somewhere easy to locate – like the dashboard and also saved in your phone, just to be safe.
- File a police report
Be sure to head to the nearest police station and file a report of the accident, especially if you intend to make an insurance claim.
If you check through your insurance policy, you’ll notice that in order to make a claim, a police report is required as part of the procedure.
Even if you don’t want to make a claim, you can still lodge a police report, just to be on the safe side.
It is also recommended to file a report if the other party is aggressive or behaving in a threatening manner.
- Do take down accurate information
When considering filing a claim either from your insurance or the third party’s policy, you’ll need to jot down a few essential details.
Get the other driver’s full name, identity card number, license plate number, insurance company, policy number, address and phone number.
You may need to exchange this information with the other party as well.
But, if you are uncomfortable giving out personal info like your address or phone number, consider heading to a police station or calling the police and exchanging information in front of an officer.
If the other driver is reluctant to give out their information, don’t challenge them. This is for your own safety.
Instead, do try to record as much information about the other party’s vehicle as you can, such as; the car’s make, model and colour as well as license plate.
Take photographs if you can. Then, head to the nearest police station and file a police report.
- Read your insurance policy thoroughly
Of course, this advice is best applied before an accident occurs. In fact, you should read through your policy even before buying.
This is so you are aware of what you may claim for (e.g. daily cash allowance, temporary replacement car) and more importantly, what your policy does not cover.
For instance, not all car insurance plans offer free towing or they may only provide the complimentary service for a certain number of kilometres.
If you assume something is covered when it is not, you’ll have to pay for it out of your own pocket.
If you aren’t clear on the details of coverage, do email or call your insurance provider for clarification.
- Inform your agent or insurance provider immediately
Call or email your agent or insurance provider with details of the incident as soon as is practically possible.
If you are unsure of what to do next i.e. the specifics of filing a claim, etc., be sure to ask for a step-by-step.
If your car needs to be towed, do get a list of the nearest approved panel workshops to send your car to.
This way, you can limit the time it takes to get your car fixed and minimise extra costs as well.
- Save all receipts and documentation
Hold on to original copies of police reports, medical bills, mechanics receipts, towing services and other related bills.
Depending on your policy and what you are allowed to claim for, more docs may need to be submitted as support.
It’s also a good idea to make soft copies of these documents.
| See also: 5 Things Your Car Insurance Policy Won't Cover |
- Don’t admit fault
Most, if not all policies, caution against admitting fault; doing so could void your claim.
It’s best to just state the sequence of events as you remember them, without giving an opinion about who is at fault to the police, the other driver and even onlookers.
It is understandable that you might be in a state of shock or fear when an accident occurs; some folks may even admit to mistakes even when they aren’t at fault!
The third party could sue you for damages not covered by your policy, like pain and suffering – it’s a real thing!
Do note though that comprehensive policies may provide cover for partial litigation costs to defend yourself, if a suit is brought against you.
So as much as is possible, try to stay calm and stick to the facts.
- Don’t lose your cool, argue or fight
Tempers flare when accidents occur; it is a common reaction to accidents. But let cooler heads prevail and control your temper.
These situations can escalate unnecessarily, causing more dangers and damages.
If there is damage to yours or the other party’s car, try to pull over to the emergency lane or side of the road, where it is safe and away from traffic.
Talk calmly; avoid casting blame, yelling at or scolding the other driver.
Remember, it’s likely that he or she is just as panicked as you are – you don’t want to make a tense situation tenser still.
Check that no one is injured, and call for a tow service or highway patrol assistance if necessary. Then, simply proceed to exchange your insurance information as advised above.
- Don’t wait – file your claim in a timely manner
It’s important to move quickly with your insurance when an accident occurs. As mentioned, you should inform your insurance agent or provider immediately.
It’s also smart to get the ball rolling with your claims, especially if you want it processed and released sooner.
You’ll need to fill out a claim form and submit it together with hardcopy receipts and other documents (e.g. police reports, etc.).
This typically needs to be completed within 30 days of the incident.
If the accident has left you injured or hospitalised, do notify the insurance company and ask for an extension.
You may also ask your friends and family for help submitting your claim.
Now you know all about the dos and don’ts when filing a car insurance claim!