Recently, we addressed the most common questions people ask regarding their homeowner’s insurance. Another set of questions we commonly receive concern how to file an auto insurance claim. To help our clients understand the process better, we’ve put together a list of FAQs and what you need to know about filing an auto insurance claim in California.
The statue of limitations in California for filing both property damage and injury claims is two years. However, it is in your best interest to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an auto accident. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes for your insurance company to determine which damages were caused by your accident. If you wait and it looks like some additional damage has occurred since the accident, you may experience push back on your claim.
What should I do if someone hits my car?
If you are on a public thoroughfare, call the police. They will come to the scene of the accident and interview both drivers and determine who was at fault. The police officer will file a report.
When the accident occurs on private property, like a parking lot, the police may or may not come. The best course of action is to take the other driver’s information and also the names and numbers of any witnesses. You might also want to snap pictures of the accident scene with your phone.
Here is the information you need from the other driver.
- Phone Number
- Insurance Company
- License Plate Number
Call their insurance company and file a claim. It’s also a good idea to notify your insurance agent that there was an accident. They will not become involved unless there is some question regarding which driver was at fault, but they can answer questions and guide you through the claim process.
Who pays when it is not clear who is at fault?
If you have comprehensive auto insurance, you will most likely receive a payout from your insurance company. That company will then negotiate with the insurance provider of the other driver to determine how the costs will be split up. This negotiation does not concern you and it’s not likely you will need to do anything apart from filing your claim.
In cases where you only carry liability insurance, your reimbursement for repairs depends on the fault settlement. If both companies agree to split the blame 50/50, then it’s probable that you won’t receive the full amount for your damages. Because of this, you always want to file a police report and try to secure witnesses when an accident occurs.
Will my insurance rates go up after filing an auto insurance claim?
Some insurance companies offer accident forgiveness for the first occurrence. However, for the most part, premiums do go up after a claim. The reason for this is NOT because insurance companies raise your rates. Most of the time it is because you lose your ‘good driver’ discount.
If the accident was the fault of the other driver, your premiums do not go up.
For more information on auto insurance or how to file an auto insurance claim, call Post Insurance. We have served the insurance needs of people in California for over 60 years.