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Car insurance claims

Everything you need to know about making a claim

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No driver wants to think about car insurance claims when purchasing a policy as the majority of us assume that we won’t be involved in an accident or have our car stolen or vandalised.

While we all hope that we never have to make a claim, if you ever need to, knowing what to expect and information you need to provide will make things a lot easier.

car insurance claims

While the details of each individual insurance claim will be different, the process, from being involved in an accident to processing a claim is usually fairly similar.

For drivers who have never had to make a claim or those recently involved in an accident or other incidents, this handy guide will help you ensure that you’re fully prepared for making a claim.

Been involved in an accident? Contact your insurer!

Car accidents can happen at any time and can be extremely terrifying. Even a light bump, if unexpected can leave you shaken.

Whatever the circumstances of your accident, whether you were at fault or not, you should try to contact your insurer as soon as you are able to, so they can start working on your claim.

The earlier you contact your insurance company, the quicker they’ll begin processing and hopefully pay out on your claim, which can a big relief during what is bound to be an incredibly stressful time.

What details do I need to provide?

When you do contact them, there are a number of vital pieces of information you’ll be required to give.

Some of the information you’ll have to give, such as your policy number or vehicle registration are admin necessities, while others such as photographs of any damage and details on the location and events of the accident could help you in making a successful claim.

As well as your personal details and the details of your vehicle, it will help your claim if you can provide details of the events of what happened. If you’re able to, make notes after the accident, detailing the time, location and weather of where the accident took place.

It can also help to get any names of witnesses. These details, along with photographs of your vehicle and any others involved will give the insurer the fullest possible picture of the events that took place.

What details do I need from the other driver?

It’s incredibly important to get some key details from anyone else involved in the accident. It will make the whole process a lot quicker and easier for everyone involved.

If possible try to get the following information from them:

  • Their name and address
  • Their vehicle registration
  • Their phone number
  • Their car insurance details
  • A copy of any photos they’ve taken of any damage

Should I contact the police?

It doesn’t matter what the details of the accident are, even if it was a tiny bump, you should always contact the police within 24 hours of the event. They can provide a crime number if the driver involved in the accident is uninsured and can be helpful in the fallout of an accident.

Non-accident claims

You don’t have to have an accident to make a claim. If your vehicle is stolen, damaged or vandalised then you should still contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Obviously, you are unlikely to have direct details of anyone else involved but you should still try and give as much information as possible.

Much like with a car accident, you should contact the police before contacting your insurer if a crime has taken place. You will receive a crime reference number and they can begin investigating the incident.

Regardless of the circumstances, you should always be as open and honest as possible, even if the accident or incident was your fault. Making a fraudulent insurance claim could not only invalidate any existing insurance but you could face police action.

Making a car insurance claim

Contacting your insurer

The easiest way to contact your insurer is on the phone. If you have taken out a temporary car insurance policy with Tempcover, you can find a list of contact details for our panel of insurers here or on your policy documents.

On the phone, you’ll be asked to provide the details mentioned above – be sure to be as clear and concise as possible as the information you give during this phone call will impact your claim.

Once they have all the information they need, it’s likely they will send you a claim form to complete. This form will give you the opportunity to give more details on the accident.

If there is serious damage to your vehicle, you’ll be asked to take your vehicle to a local trusted garage of the insurers choosing. Failure to do so could stop your claim from being successful.

If your car is beyond repair or if an insurance assessor believes the cost of the repairs will be more than the value of the car, then it will be written off. Your insurer will then offer you a lump sum equal to the value of the car before it was damaged or stolen.

Check your policy excess

Before the insurance company can begin processing any payments, you will be asked to pay your excess. This is the part of the claim that you agreed to pay when you applied for insurance.

If the damage to the vehicle is less than your policy excess you might want to think twice about making a claim. You’ll find yourself with a loss when it comes to repairs and you could also lose your No Claims Discount. Having a large excess is an attractive way of reducing the overall cost of your premium but it could come back to bite you if you have to make a claim.

Remember that if the accident is proved to be the fault of another person, you will not have to pay any excess as the insurance company will recover the costs from their insurance.

Even if you don’t decide to make a claim because you don’t feel you’ll lose money, you should still contact your insurer and notify them that you’ve been in an accident. Just inform them that you are contacting them for information purposes only and do not wish to make a claim. Failing to report an accident or any damage could invalidate your insurance.

Will it affect my current insurance?

Making a claim can have a big impact on the cost of your insurance premiums in the future. First and foremost it will affect your No Claims Discount, which could cause an increase in the cost of your insurance.

If you have been driving under a temporary car insurance policy, your No Claims Discount is protected if you have to make a claim or if a policyholder is driving your car.

Making a claim will make you more of a risk in the eyes of your insurance companies but that shouldn’t put you off making a claim. You can still save money on your insurance by making sure you properly secure your vehicle off the road, comparing different insurance companies and practicing safe driving.

What happens next?

Once you’ve filled out your claim form and your insurer has all the information they need, they will contact any other drivers or witnesses to collaborate your version of events.

While this is happening your vehicle will be repaired by the garage selected by your insurer and you’ll be able to collect the vehicle when the repairs are finished. Most insurance companies will provide a courtesy car while the repairs are taking place.

Your insurance company will get in contact with you with their final ruling on the claim and if you’re not happy with the outcome you can contact the financial ombudsman, who will investigate your complaint on your behalf.

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