What to do, or not do, when reporting an insurance claim

By | October 18, 2023

If and when you have an insurance claim to report, you should inform your insurance agent of its occurrence as soon as possible, even if you called the claim in direct to the insurance company.  Reporting direct is not only accepted today, it is encouraged by many insurance companies and agents, including this writer, IF circumstances warrant it.  You may find yourself in an emergency situation at night, or over a weekend when an agent is not available, but you have questions you want answered, if only to verify insurance coverage for your own peace of mind. 

Having said that, there are practical reasons for agents to report the claim for you. This is what we do. We are there to assist you through the entire claims process. The professional agent provides counsel on what is, or is not covered; and how best to present a factual time saving proof of loss to the company.  It may involve delaying a claim report pending estimates of damage and third party statements, etc.  This is particularly important in two party motor vehicle collision claims, when there is no police report and both drivers deny fault.  Rushing to secure a quick settlement may actually prevent you from receiving a favorable settlement.  Without all the facts, your company may be forced to pay third party damages as well as your own collision loss, minus the deductible!  I have to pay what?!  How many of you have experienced this surprise? 

At the time of a vehicle accident with a 3rd party, be sure and exchange all pertinent information with that party at the scene when possible.  This includes driver/owner name and home address, contact phone number and auto insurance company name, policy number and date of coverage – normally available on the Vehicle Coverage ID Card.  If there are witnesses to the accident, secure their personal contact information as well.  If law enforcement investigates the accident, secure the officer’s name, law enforcement office  and location.  Request an official accident report when available, including any driving citations.  This is just common sense and it will speed up claim processing.

By the way, never admit negligence in the chaotic moments after a vehicle claim in which you are involved.  Personal feelings of guilt may actually betray you.  It is in your best interest not to tell the investigating officer or witnesses, “Oh, my gosh, I’m at fault.”  Your defense attorney will not appreciate this sudden outburst of candor when he is attempting to prove your innocence. 

As a general statement, once a claim is reported, your agent is out of the “claim settlement loop,” unless there were known questions or exceptions discovered by the agent at the time of reporting.  This is a constant cause of confusion for insured policy holders and a good reason to get all the facts to the insurance company with our assistance.  If further questions or problems  arise, we will not have to locate and correct the “he said- she said” misinformation.  For an agent to discover your claim a day or two later in the agency’ electronic Claims Report Summary is counter productive to an independent service oriented insurance agency.