Read your policy! It’s your guide to the types of losses that will and will not be covered and to filing claims. How often you file a claim and the types of claims you file often affect your premium and whether your insurer will renew your policy. If the cost to repair the damage is not much more than your deductible, you may want to pay for the repairs without filing a claim.
To file a claim, call the phone number on your proof-of-insurance card as soon as possible. Ask about forms or documents you’ll need to support your claim. Each state has its own laws about the claims process, and both you and your insurer will need to follow those rules.
The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to assess the damages and determine the payment. These adjusters may be employees of the company or independent contractors. You should cooperate with the adjuster’s investigation of your claim. The adjuster will probably want to meet with you to inspect the damage. Jot down notes and keep track of the dates of any conversations you have with your agent or adjuster.
If you, the insurer and the claims adjuster disagree, first try to resolve the differences with your insurer. Your agent may be helpful. It also might help to have your auto repairer meet with you and the insurance adjuster.
Don’t feel rushed or pushed to agree with something you aren’t comfortable with; your insurer doesn’t have the last word. Ask questions and ask the adjuster to provide a written explanation of his decisions.
If you and the insurer still disagree about the claim handling or settlement, you should ask for help from the consumer services personnel at your state insurance department. If you disagree about the value of the claim, check your policy for an appraisal clause.
Another option is to hire an attorney or a public adjuster. A public adjuster isn’t an attorney or a government employee. Those states that allow public adjusters require them to be licensed and to follow certain guidelines. If you have questions about public adjusters in your state, contact your state insurance department.