Car insurance claims

There’s more to making an insurance claim than filling out a form. We’re here to help you understand your car insurance, so you know exactly what to do in the days and weeks after an accident or collision.

Alice Lloyd

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What to do after an accident

Being in a car accident is traumatic, but you should try to stay calm and take some basic steps to make sure any subsequent car insurance claim goes smoothly.

Key points

  • Contact your insurer straight away with all the details they’ll need
  • Check your policy details and know what you're entitled to
  • If you have Gap insurance, inform the Gap provider of the incident as soon as possible

There are a few things you need to do straight away:

  • Let your insurer know within 24 hours what’s happened - regardless of who was to blame
  • Tell your insurer your details. They’ll need your reg number and policy number, as well as the names, reg number and contact details of other drivers, passengers or witnesses
  • Take notes and tell your insurer about any damage that has been done to vehicles. Include photographic evidence where possible
  • Check your paperwork - you may be entitled to a replacement vehicle, legal cover or personal accident cover

How to make a claim

After you’ve provided initial details, you’ll need to fill in an accident report. Your insurer might ask you to take your car to an approved garage to assess the damage too.

Make sure you pay your excess as soon as you're able to. Your insurer can’t progress your claim without it, so it’ll take longer to get you back on the road.

According to the ABI, over £23 million was paid out every day by car insurance providers in 2018 - the highest on record. It’s never been more important to get clued up on how to make a claim

What to do if someone claims against you

Exchange details with the other driver and inform your insurance company as soon as possible.

If it accepts the accident was your fault, then your insurer will settle the claim. If fault is unclear, then the insurer will investigate evidence, such as CCTV, witness statements, and areas of damage on the cars to assess the incident.

It will decide which driver was at fault, and the claim can be settled. If a decision can’t be made, or you’re both to blame, the insurers usually split the claim between them.

If your car is written off

If your car has been written off your insurer will offer you its market value at the time of the accident.

This is usually less than you originally paid for it as your car loses value - it isn’t always enough to buy a similar replacement.

This is where Guaranteed Asset Protection (Gap) insurance can be valuable. It’ll cover the difference between what you paid for the car and what the insurer will pay out.

Inform your Gap provider as soon as possible. When your claim is settled with your insurer, it’ll release the money.

If your car is stolen

Report your car as stolen to the police straight away. They’ll give you a crime reference number which you’ll need one to make a claim.

If your car is found with minimal damage, then your insurer should settle a claim quickly. If the damage is substantial, then it may take longer. Don’t let it drag out, your insurer must make you a reasonable offer within three months.

If your car isn’t found, or the damage means it’s written off, then your insurance company will offer you the market value of your car at the time it was stolen.

Hit by an uninsured driver

If you’re hit by an uninsured driver, and you have fully comp car insurance, then you may have to claim on it. Some providers will waive your claim excess, others will protect your no-claims bonus, but your premiums will probably go up.

If you have third party only or third party fire and theft insurance, you’ll have to submit a claim to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) instead.

Third party, fire and theft insurance will cover damage caused by fire when the situation is beyond your control. For instance, fire caused by a collision that isn’t your fault, if the car is hit by lightning, or there’s an explosion

Comprehensive car insurance will also cover damage caused by fire, but it will come to your aid if the fire was unintentionally caused by you, for instance, if a collision was your fault

Will making a claim increase your premium?

Yes, your premium will increase, regardless of whose fault the accident was.

Shop around when you next need to renew your car insurance. Although your premiums will go up, you could still find a competitive deal with another insurer when you compare.

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