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Consumer Insight

March 28, 2022

What You Should Know About Filing an Auto Claim

Auto insurance is one of the most used types of personal insurance. Drivers need auto policies to comply with state law, satisfy lenders, and protect assets. Most drivers will eventually need to file a claim for one reason or another.  


Remember, safety is the priority after a car collision. Call 911 if someone is injured. If your car is drivable, move it out of traffic if you can do so safely.  

Collect information after a crash. You should exchange information with the other driver. Get his or her name, address, and insurance company’s name and phone number. This information is on the proof-of-insurance card. If you can’t get this information, write down his or her driver’s license number and license plate number to give to your insurance company. Share the same information about yourself with the other driver.  

Get this information at the scene of the accident:  

  • The other car’s make, model, year, and license plate number.  

  • Witnesses’ names and contact information.  

  • The name, badge number, and contact information of the officer who comes to the accident. Ask the officer when and where to get the accident report and accident report number.  

  • The time, date, and exact location of the accident, with notes of skid marks, weather, and road conditions. Take a photo or sketch a diagram of the accident scene.  

If your car is damaged by a hit-and-run driver or is stolen, promptly call the police. 


How to file a claim. To file a claim, call the phone number on your proof-of-insurance card as soon as possible. Many insurers also allow consumers to file claims on smart phone apps.  

The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to assess the damage and determine the payment. These adjusters may be employees of the company or independent contractors. You should cooperate with the adjuster’s investigation of your claim. The adjuster may want to meet with you to inspect the damage. Take notes and keep track of the dates of any conversations you have with your agent or adjuster.  

How often you file a claim and the types of claims you file can affect your premium and whether your insurer will renew your policy. 

If you disagree with your settlement, try to resolve the differences with your insurer. You may want to have your auto repairer meet with you and the insurance adjuster. Don’t feel rushed or forced to agree with something you aren’t comfortable with; your insurer doesn’t have the last word.  

Ask questions and ask the adjuster to provide a written explanation of the decisions he or she makes. If you and the insurer still disagree about the claim handling or settlement, you should ask for help from the consumer services personnel at your state insurance department. If you disagree about the value of the claim, check your policy for an appraisal clause.  


  1. Know the information to collect if you’re in a crash so you can file a claim.  

  1. You don’t have to accept a payment you don't feel is fair.  

  1. If you need further help, contact your state insurance department.  

About the National Association of Insurance Commissioners

As part of our state-based system of insurance regulation in the United States, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides expertise, data, and analysis for insurance commissioners to effectively regulate the industry and protect consumers. The U.S. standard-setting organization is governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer reviews, and coordinate regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally.