How To Claim Auto Insurance – A Complete Guide With Examples

Most people hope that they never have to submit a claim to their auto insurance policy, but as we all know, accidents and incidents happen. Sooner or later, many of us will have to work with our insurance company to get reimbursement for damages. 

Most of the major insurance companies have streamlined the claim submitting process so that users can easily submit them by phone, from a computer, or using a mobile app. To claim auto insurance the process simply requires entering some vital information about the accident and/or taking and submitting some photos of the damage.

Tips To Claim Auto Insurance

Remember that if you get into an accident, you must make an effort to obtain all of the relevant information from the other driver, such as the name of the insurance company, policy number, driver’s license information, and information about the model and make of the vehicle. If you contacted the police and they filled out a report at the scene, all of this information will appear in detail on that paperwork (known as the police report).  

Here we discuss the general steps and information you need to take to submit an auto insurance claim and provide examples of the information you will need. We use two large auto insurance companies —GEICO and Travelers to show the general process of submitting a claim. Keep in mind that different insurance companies will have different requirements, and the online forms vary, but in general, the primary information required and the key steps remain the same. 

Step 1 – Make Sure That You Have All of The Required Information 

This step starts when you get into an accident or incident with your vehicle. That’s why it is always a good idea to ask the police to come to the scene of an accident, even if it is a minor one. The police will document all of your information and the information of the other party (or parties) involved, including the names of the other passengers in the car and if any injuries occurred. This information goes into a police report that serves as an official record of what the police officer determined happened and can prove extremely useful when filing your claim. 

However, before you leave the scene, if possible, make sure that you also have some information about the other party involved as well including:

  • Name, address, and phone number
  • Insurance policy number 
  • Type of vehicle (year, make, model) and license plate number 
  • Photos of any damage from both of the vehicles (taken from as many angles as possible)

You may not be able to access the official police report for several days. Still, To claim auto insurance you should begin the claim process as soon as possible (ideally within the first 24 to 48 hours) after the accident. Having this information readily available will help you with the process. Note that some insurance companies have a specific time in which you must file a claim after an accident.  

Step 2 – Contact the Insurance Company 

This step is where you begin the process of starting a claim either with your own insurance company or the insurance company of the other driver. If you know that you will be named the “at fault” driver in the police report, you should file the claim with your own insurance company. Similarly, if you know that the other driver will be named “at fault” for the incident, you should file the claim with their company. Even if you are filing a claim with the other party’s insurance company, you should still notify your insurance company about the incident, just to keep them in the loop. 

You can easily file most auto insurance claims online with the information that you obtained at the scene of the accident or the police report if you have it. To begin the claim, go to the website of the appropriate insurance company (the one with whom you will file the claim). 

Note that all insurance companies also provide a phone number that you can call to file a claim by phone. Use this process if you do not wish to complete the steps online or wish to have someone walk you through it step by step. Look for this phone number on the claims landing page of the insurance company. 

Here you can see the landing page for GEICO auto insurance claims. 

Insurance Claim Step 1
GEICO Insurance Claim Page

And here is an example of the claims landing page for Travelers Insurance. 

Insurance Claim Step 2
Travelers Insurance Claim Page

The landing page for each insurance company will look slightly different, but each company should have a claims page and a button or link to click to initiate a claim. 

For GEICO insurance, click the “Report an Incident” button to get started. 

Insurance Claim Step 3
Travelers Insurance Claim Page

Click the “For Individuals” button on the Travelers Insurance landing page. 

After you have clicked the button to initiate the claim, the system will ask you whether or not you are the insurance company’s customer or if you are filing a claim against a policyholder of the company. If you are filing with your own insurance company, select that you are the customer (you may need to log in to your account). If you are filing with the other party’s insurance company, indicate that you are not the policyholder. 

Claim Auto Insurance With GEICO

For the GEICO example, the next page shows the following options. 

Select “I am insured with GEICO” if you want to submit a claim against your own policy. Select “I had an incident with a GEICO customer” if you want to submit a claim against the other party’s insurance. 

Insurance Claim Step 1
GEICO Insurance Reporting A Claim

Here’s how these options look for GEICO Insurance. If you are making a claim against your own company, click “Log In” under the “GEICO Policyholders” section. If you are making a claim against someone else’s insurance, select “Continue As Guest” under the “Not a GEICO Policyholder?” section. 

Now you will have arrived at the point where you need to enter the relevant information about your specific claim. Have all of your required information or the police report in front of you during this step to make the process easier. 

When filing a GEICO claim, this step looks as shown below. We selected the “I had an incident with a GEICO customer” option for this example. If you know the customer’s name and policy number, you will enter it into the appropriate boxes. If you did not get that information at the accident scene, you would select the “No Policy Number” tab and click “Continue.” 

Geico insurance
GEICO Insurance Policy Name

The following page will ask you to enter the personal information you know about the customer so that the system can pull up their policy record and confirm they are an active customer.   

Once you have entered the other person’s identifying information, the system will bring you to the page where you can enter the specific details about the incident, upload any photos, and complete the remaining steps to submit the claim for the company’s review. 

Here’s what you’ll see when you click on the “Continue As a Guest” button on the Travelers Insurance claims page. Select “Auto” to initiate an auto insurance claim. 

The system will then prompt you with a series of questions that ask if you are filing a glass/windshield claim only or if anyone sustained injuries in the accident. When you have completed answering those questions, you will reach the landing page where you enter information about the customer, their policy, and when the incident occurred. 

After you have entered this information and the system has located the policyholder’s account, it will prompt you to continue with the details of the incident (including any photos) and then submit the claim for them to review. 

Step 3 – The Insurance Company Reviews the Claim and Damage 

Once you have submitted your claim, you need to wait for the insurance company to review it and confirm if they are responsible for paying it out and determine the amount they will pay out for repairs or replacement of the vehicle. 

This step is where the insurance adjuster comes into the picture. The insurance adjuster assigned to your case will contact you within a few days to review the status of your claim. They will then help you set up an appointment to have the damage on your vehicle inspected, and if there were any injuries, the adjuster will send someone to address those claims. If you have the police reports available, these documents will help expedite the process and allow the adjuster to efficiently complete this step, especially if you are not the driver at fault. 

At this point, you will need an estimate to give the insurance company an idea of how much the repairs will cost. The company may require that you take the vehicle to one of their repair shops or may allow you to choose a repair shop of your own. Either way, the repair shop assesses your vehicle and directly shares the cost information with the insurance company. Based on that information and estimate, the company determines how much they will reimburse you for the damage. 

Step 4 – Receive Payout for the Damages 

After the investigation and repair estimate, the insurance company with whom you filed the claim (either your own or the other driver’s) will issue you a check or send an electronic payment to your bank account for the amount of the repairs or the replacement cost of your vehicle. Keep in mind that if you are filing with your own company, you have a deductible for which you are responsible as part of your policy. You will see this deductible reflected in the payout amount that you receive. For example, if your repair costs $6,000 and your deductible is $1,000, the insurance company will only pay $5,000 in reimbursement. 

Once you have the funds, you can determine where and when you want to repair your vehicle, or if your vehicle was totaled, the type of new car you wish to purchase with the funds. Depending on your policy (or the other driver’s policy), the insurance company may also reimburse you for the use of a rental car during the time that your vehicle is being repaired. 

Step 5 – Case Closed 

At this point, your insurance claim is considered closed. Once the insurance company has paid out the funds, you have completed your business at that point until you need to file another claim. You may still be able to view your claim details online by logging into your insurance website or by entering your claim number on the insurance website of the other driver. 

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