Understanding how to file an insurance claim can streamline the entire process if your car is ever damaged or stolen.

Key takeaways:

  • Filing a car insurance claim involves a series of steps
  • Learning these steps now ensures that you know what to do  if disaster strikes
  • The result is a streamlined claims process

Being involved in a car accident is a nerve-wracking experience that can leave you physically and emotionally shaken. Not only do you have to worry about injuries, damage, and finding a way home if your vehicle isn’t drivable, but you’ll also need to begin filing an insurance claim.

You probably already know that you should call your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident, but there’s a lot more to the process. Collecting all the necessary information in the moments following a crash can expedite your claim and make it more likely you’ll receive a fair settlement in the aftermath of this potentially life-changing event.

Keeping your head clear and acting quickly is vital in the moments after an accident. Here’s a step-by-step guide on filing a car insurance claim in New York.

Assess the situation

Your health comes before anything else, so start by checking yourself for injuries. An ambulance is probably on its way, and you shouldn’t hesitate to get medical attention if you aren’t feeling right. Even a seemingly minor pain could escalate if you don’t treat it, and having a doctor document your injuries could also lead to a larger settlement if your economic loss exceeds the state’s no-fault limits.

Next, you’ll want to call the police. They will determine what happened, interview witnesses, take pictures, and file a report that you can provide to your insurance company when filing your claim.

After talking to the police, you should document the damage to your vehicle. In most cases, the damage will be obvious, but walk around the car to check for smaller dents you know weren’t there before the accident. Taking pictures of this damage ensures you have proof to show your insurer if necessary. Gathering relevant information on weather conditions and traffic can also help. You can ask witnesses to provide contact information, as well.

According to New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, you are legally obligated to exchange information with other drivers involved in an accident. This data includes your name, address, vehicle registration number, insurance information, and driver’s license number. The other driver must provide you with their information, as well.

Carefully assessing the situation and gathering all of this information at the scene makes it easier to file a claim and eliminates potential mistakes. 

Contact your insurance company

The sooner you contact your insurer after an accident, the better, as they will protect your rights and start the claims process. 

Insurance companies typically want you to provide a statement about what happened. New York has no-fault personal injury protection, but your insurance provider will still need to understand the events leading up to the accident to determine which party is liable for vehicle and property damage. 

You’ll provide your insurance company with the other driver’s information at this point and let them know that a police report will be available. You must also submit a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident (MV-104) form to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if damage from the accident exceeds $1,000.

File your claim

If you need to file an official insurance claim, you must do so in writing within 30 days of the accident. If you are injured in the accident, you’ll file a no-fault application (Form NF-2) with your insurance company. On this form, you’ll include information on any treatments that were necessary after the crash, in addition to lost wages and any expenses you incurred after the accident. All of this is covered under no-fault insurance.

Doctor’s notes, receipts, and employment information will be necessary to complete this form. You might also need a copy of the police report to confirm the accident’s severity.

You’ll file a separate claim with your insurance company for vehicle damage. You’ll need collision coverage, which is optional, to receive this benefit regardless of who is at fault. However, you can still recover some damages from the other driver’s insurance company if they’re to blame for the crash.

Work with your insurance adjuster

After filing your claim, you might have to work with your insurance adjuster. This individual works for the insurance company and will investigate the accident to determine the amount of your settlement. While settlements are straightforward for minor accidents because of New York’s no-fault laws, things become more challenging if there’s a significant injury. 

Basic auto insurance covers injuries and expenses up to $50,000. However, you can purchase additional coverage to protect you and your family. Extended policies apply to occupants of your vehicle and other vehicles up to a specific amount, reducing your financial risk

You might also invest in collision insurance to ensure that your vehicle is repaired or replaced after a crash. Your insurance adjuster will determine how much you receive based on the damage to the car and its value.

Make sure you provide your insurance adjuster with as much detailed information as possible. That way, you’re more likely to receive an equitable settlement.

Prepare yourself before an accident

No one plans to get in a car accident, but they’re sometimes unavoidable. Knowing what to do beforehand can help you avoid mistakes and receive fast and fair compensation. Remember, the more information you gather at the crash site, the easier it is to present evidence to your insurance company. 

NICRIS offers auto, home, life, and commercial insurance in the state of New York. We understand how frightening and disorienting a car accident can be, which is why we want our customers to know that they don’t have to go it alone. Contact us today for more information about how NICRIS can help you navigate the confusing landscape of New York insurance.