How to File a Car Insurance Claim


Getting into a car crash can be stressful and cause panic, even if you are protected with car insurance. Many folks have coverage, but don’t know what to do after an accident and don’t know how to file a car insurance claim. Keep calm and read on.

The car insurance claim process may seem daunting, but it is easier than it appears. Here is some information on what to do after a collision and how to file a claim with little hassle.

Things You Should Know Before the Worst Happens

No one plans to get into an accident, but it’s important to know what your policy covers in case you have file a car accident injury claim or any other insurance claim. Read through your policy so you always know where you stand. Know how much liability coverage you have and if you have collision and comprehensive coverage. If you notice any coverage you want that isn’t included in your plan, contact your insurance company to get it added to your policy. Reading over your policy can also inform you on how to best file an auto insurance claim with your insurer if you cannot proceed with traditional methods.

After the Accident

There is a whole guide on what to do after getting into an auto accident and there are some steps that take priority before filing accident claims. In short, pull over and park away from traffic if possible, check yourself and others involved in the accident for injuries, call the police to report the accident, and exchange insurance information with the people involved with the collision. Also, take pictures of the accident scene if you are able, write down license plate numbers of all vehicles involved in the collision, and write down the names and contact information of any witnesses.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Regardless of whoever caused the accident, you should call your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident and file a claim. There should be a national or local phone number on your insurance card that you can call. When you speak with your insurance representative, ask if there are any particular forms you need to fill out or other information they need in order to swiftly process auto accident claims. Knowing what information you’ll need to obtain, usually items such as repair bills and the police report, will save you from making follow-up phone calls later on.

Take Your Car to a Repair Shop

While most state laws prohibit insurance companies from favoring specific auto body repair shops, many will provide you a list of local shops that are backed by repair and labor guarantees. Ultimately, you will be the one to choose which repair shop will fix your car. Make sure you know what your settlement amounts are before signing off on an estimate for repairs. You don’t want to end up paying beyond your policy’s limit if you can help it. Keep and make copies of all paperwork.

Cooperate With Your Insurer

Depending on the severity of the accident, you may be required to give your insurer additional information. They may call the repair shop to discuss the estimate for repairs or send an insurance adjuster to inspect the car. You may need to send copies of any legal papers or settlement offers you receive in relation to the accident. This can help your insurer defend you if you are sued as a result of the accident. It may seem like a hassle, but it is all in the interest of providing you the protection you purchased.

Keep Records of All Related Expenses

If you get a car estimate, hospital bill, a bill for a rental car, or any other expense related to your car accident, you need to be able to show proof of it to your insurance company. Keep any and all receipts or paperwork that indicates how much you paid or need to pay. You should also write down and report anything that could be considered lost wages. This can help you get reimbursed properly for these expenses.

Keep and Store Copies of Paperwork

This has been mentioned previously multiple times, but it bears repeating. It is important to keep any and all paperwork related to your accident in order for your insurance provider to refer to it when filing your car insurance claim. Keep the originals and make copies of any forms, bills, or other items related to your accident. You should also consider keeping your records organized in a file and kept in a safe place in your home.

If You’re Dissatisfied, Talk to Your Insurance Agent

If your claim has been processed and you aren’t satisfied with your payout, don’t be afraid to talk things over with your insurance provider. You can both review what was outlined in your policy agreement and see if there was any information that was overlooked or forgot to provide. It could also be an opportunity to update your insurance policy to include certain coverages that weren’t available to you in this instance.

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Extended Car Warranty or Vehicle Service Contract

When it comes to protecting your vehicle, you have car insurance in case you get into an accident. But what if you need a new transmission? What if your engine needs work? Unless you’ve got a mechanic friend who just happens to have all the right parts laying around (and some free time), you’re going to be stuck paying for it out of pocket if your vehicle isn’t under manufacturer's warranty.

That’s where a vehicle service contract comes in.

In simple terms, a service contract is a promise to pay for certain repairs or services on your vehicle. However, there’s still a lot of confusion about what a vehicle service contract is and how it relates to the term “extended car warranty.”

We’re here to help explain.

Extended Car Warranty or Vehicle Service Contract?

After your original manufacturer’s warranty runs out, you may want to help protect yourself from the cost of an unexpected vehicle breakdown by buying additional coverage.

Products offered to supplement your manufacturer’s warranty are sometimes mistakenly referred to as extended car warranties. This type of coverage doesn’t technically extend the coverage of your manufacturer’s warranty, however – it’s actually a new contract between the contract provider and the consumer. As such, a more accurate label is vehicle service contract.

This type of coverage may differ from a manufacturer’s warranty in the repairs that it covers and in coverage limits. Vehicle service contracts also often include additional services like roadside assistance.

New Car Warranties and Vehicle Service Contracts

Typically a manufacturer’s warranty offers basic coverage for at least three years or 36,000 miles — whichever comes first. This is often referred to as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. Some new vehicles may also come with a powertrain warranty of up to 10 years or 100,000 miles — but these usually only cover the engine and transmission.

If you’re buying a new car, many dealers will also offer to sell you supplemental coverage over and above the basic warranty. As this coverage isn’t part of the original manufacturer’s warranty, it’s considered a vehicle service contract.

If your manufacturer’s warranty is set to expire in the near future (or has already expired), you may want to look into the benefits of a vehicle service contract.

Another situation where you may want to look into purchasing a vehicle service contract is when you’re buying a used car — whether through a private seller or a used car dealer. While a used vehicle may come with some sort of existing coverage, that’s definitely not a given.

If you’re buying a used car “as-is” (which means the seller takes no responsibility for any repairs or parts that might be needed), you’re going to have to pay for any repairs out of pocket. By pairing a vehicle service contract with your used car purchase, you can avoid the cost of any covered repairs that might spring up in the future.

What’s Covered by a Vehicle Service Contract?

Most vehicle service contracts will include a section listing the specific parts that are covered under your contract (and the circumstances under which those parts are or aren’t covered). They may list out coverages in sections based on different parts of your car (e.g., the engine, transmission, air conditioning, drive axle, etc.).

Another important area of a vehicle service contract to review is the exclusions section. This is where you’ll find a list of all the parts and services that ARE NOT covered under the contract. In addition, most vehicle service contracts don't cover pre-existing conditions, so you shouldn't expect help paying for a problem you already have.

Since vehicle service contracts can vary widely based on the year, make, model and mileage of your car (as well as a variety of other factors), it’s important to read your contract closely to make sure you understand what’s covered and what isn’t. Very few service contracts cover all repairs1, so keep that in mind before making a purchase or filing a claim.

Mechanical Breakdown Insurance

The difference is that mechanical breakdown insurance is actually an insurance product as opposed to a warranty or service contract.

Depending on your state, and its regulatory approach to such products, you may be offered MBI as an alternative to a vehicle service contract.


When it comes to your vehicle, you just want the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're protected in case of a covered car repair. But with so many different terms being used to describe very similar products, it can be tough for consumers to make sense of it all.

At the end of the day, it's up to you to decide when and where to purchase a vehicle service contract. These days, it's easy to compare providers, coverage options and prices to make sure you're getting the right coverage — all from the comfort of your home.

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IoT Security in the Auto Industry

When we consider the Internet of Things (IoT) in the automobile market, most of us will think about the connected car or the Google car. Today, these benefits are consumer orientated and provide basic convenience, maintenance and safety functions. In the future, especially with the ongoing development and testing of the self-driving Google car, our entire experience with how we interact with our cars will be revolutionized. Someday, we may just all be passengers where vehicles communicate with one another, to maximize safety and optimize efficiency to get us from point A to point B.

If we then mention security, the 60 minutes piece that aired in 2015 about hacking the internet-connected Jeep most likely will be top of mind. Was it sensational? Sure, but it did highlight a potential critical flaw and security vulnerability that resulted in 1.4 million vehicles being recalled. Additionally, car manufacturers are increasingly marketing their connected features from onboard Wi-Fi, to mobile apps that control the locks and even start vehicles. In these cases, the novelty of these “cool” features often outweigh the negative impacts. So what happens when the consumer’s phone is stolen? Are there appropriate security and authentication measures in place to ensure their car is then not stolen as well? These are all things to think about.

Should we as consumers be concerned? Maybe, maybe not, as it may still be too early for these issues to turn into an epidemic. However, we should start becoming more aware of these connected features and how they can impact us, both positively and negatively. Security will need to be addressed especially as more vehicles offer internet-connected features. Our safety and the privacy of our personal information and property will depend upon it.

New Risks Facing Auto Manufacturers

For now, the people who should be really concerned about these vulnerabilities are the auto manufacturers. Negative high-profile news like the 60 minutes piece can be quite damaging to their brands and reputation. Additionally, these vulnerabilities put consumer safety at risk and significantly drive the cost of warranty replacements up when repairs are needed on potentially more than a million vehicles. Nobody wants to be associated with a story such as that and have to deal with expensive reputation repair and resulting financial losses. Fiat Chrysler has had to do a lot of damage control, including an extensive and costly recall of their vehicles. Now, if something tragic had resulted from this, the damage could have been unrepairable and affected whether the manufacturer would be able to stay in business or not.

But, issues like this may just be the tip of the iceberg of security concerns for car manufacturers. While hacking a vehicle and taking control over some of its functions gets the media attention, what happens during the engineering and manufacturing stages could be the most critical. Here are a couple of examples…

Security Concerns on the Manufacturing Floor

The automobile manufacturing process needs to be very precise and meet the highest quality standards to put a car on the road. The safety of everyone on the road depends upon the quality of vehicles being manufactured and sold. The manufacturing process is now very automated (almost fully). To further optimize the process, manufacturing facilities and the equipment are being interconnected to share and analyze important data. This is Industrial IoT (IIoT). What can be done with this data can be very powerful and potentially save manufacturers millions of dollars. However, connecting this equipment does open new vulnerabilities, which can put the manufacturer, its employees and consumers at risk.

If a malicious attack is successful at compromising a piece of manufacturing equipment or software service, serious issues can occur. If a hacker is able to gain access to a sensor that monitors the operating temperature of a piece of manufacturing equipment, how could that potentially affect the safety of the employees? Now, what if an attack is successful at making a simple modification to the software that instructs a piece equipment as to how many bolts it installs to brace the framing of the car in the assembly process? How would that impact the safety of the consumer? It’s these behind-the-scenes IIoT security scenarios that must be addressed before they become the next sensational news story.

Ensuring Firmware Integrity

Now that cars have basically become computer processors on wheels, there is a significant amount of software and firmware on board that controls many of the vehicle’s functions. The initial install of this software and firmware is carried out during the manufacturing process and generally conducted in a controlled environment. However, as the vehicle hits the road and ages, it’s inevitable that there will be software and firmware upgrades. These upgrades could be performed by certified dealers or any mechanic that has access to the vehicle. How do you know that right software or firmware is being installed in your car? You probably have no clue and your mechanic may not know either. However, if the software/firmware was signed, the integrity can be validated and ensure that only the proper updates are made and malicious software, or firmware is not installed in your vehicle.

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