Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, research investigative pieces…

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states…

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Reviewed byRachael Brennan
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UPDATED: Sep 3, 2020

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If you’re reading this right now, it’s likely that you’ve already been in an accident and you’re struggling to figure out how long it’s going to take — and how expensive it’s going to be — to get your vehicle repaired and back in your driveway so that you can resume a normal life. Unfortunately, as with all things insurance, there’s going to be some hoops to jump through, some red tape to cut, some T’s to cross, and some I’s to dot.

But if you educate yourself on how the process works, and understand your auto insurance coverage options, it can drastically help speed things along. Below, we’ll let you know exactly how your insurance company will manage your claim. We’ll also give you some tips on how to make the experience faster, easier, and more affordable for you.

One of the best ways to deal with an accident is to make sure you understand your coverage before an accident occurs. If you need to compare rates, use our FREE auto insurance comparison tool now.

Be Prepared Before the Accident Happens

For some of the drivers reading this right now, it may be a little too late. But if you get into another accident, it’ll be helpful to know this information in advance. For everyone else, take notes; because if you don’t follow the steps below, it can slow down the amount of time it takes for you to file your claim, get your vehicle repaired, and get back to your normal life.

For any accident — even if it’s only a minor one with cosmetic damage to the vehicles and no physical injuries to the drivers — try as best you can to get your cars away from traffic and contact local law enforcement. Filing a police report immediately after the accident is the best way to get the documentation you need to file your claim quickly and get it approved by your insurance company. If your claim gets denied for any reason, you’ll likely end up paying for repairs or a new vehicle completely out of pocket.

Next, be proactive with the claims adjuster who is assigned to your case. Also, although this should go without saying, be as pleasant and polite as you can. Claims adjusters are usually overloaded with casework on any given day, and many of the drivers they have to interact with are upset and frustrated about the confusing and convoluted claims adjustment process. So the easier you make their job, the easier they will make your case resolution.

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Accident Aftermath

So the accident happened, you filed your claim, your insurance company approved your claim, and you’re about to start the process of getting your vehicle repaired. Although one would hope it’s as simple as driving to the nearest body shop and letting your insurance take care of the rest, it’s, unfortunately, a little more complicated than that.

For starters, before your insurance does anything, you have to pay your deductible. Depending on whether the accident was with another vehicle or stationary object, or an act of nature or vandalism, determines whether your repairs will be funded by your collision or your comprehensive coverage, respectively.

Regardless, most insurance companies will assign the exact same dollar amount to the deductible of each form of coverage. Deductibles for collision and comprehensive usually range somewhere between $250 to $1,000. But for most drivers, the average deductible is about $500. Of course, if you have neither collision nor comprehensive coverage on your insurance policy before the accident, then you won’t have to worry about paying a deductible — because you’ll be paying for the repairs to your vehicle 100 percent out of pocket.

Liability Coverage Auto Insurance Premiums Legend: 25/50 Liability 50/100 Liability 100/300 Liability Texas Florida Pennsylvania Louisiana California 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240 260 $99 $132 $152 $128 $171 $197 $67 $90 $104 $126 $168 $193 $176 $234 $269

If the accident was not your fault, or the accident was deemed to be a “no-fault” accident, then either your insurance company or the insurance company of the at-fault party will be paying for the damages. No matter which insurance company pays, you are still obligated to pay your deductible to your insurer. However, if the other driver was at fault, your insurer may reimburse you for that deductible in the future. Be sure to talk to your agent and ask them to explain to you what your options are if that situation applies to you and your accident.

Getting the Repairs Done

The auto body shop where you get your vehicle repaired is another point of contention and most accident claims. You may have a mechanic that you know and trust, but he may not be a part of your insurance company’s network of approved repair shops. If you are bound and determined to get your vehicle repaired at the shop of your choice, be warned that your insurance company may force you to pay the difference if the total cost of repairs exceeds that which they are willing to pay.

Get estimates — in writing — from a few different repair shops before you decide who you want to take care of your vehicle. After all, it’s your car and you are the one who’s going to be driving it post-repairs. If it’s worth it to you to pay a little extra money or go through a little extra hassle to get a specific mechanic approved, then go for it. But if you prefer the convenience and the expediency of going with your insurance choice, then that may be the more affordable option.

What If I Don’t Need to File a Claim?

This is a perfectly valid question and, in some cases, it might be better not to file a claim after a minor accident. After all, filing claims with your insurance company can make your premiums more expensive virtually every night. But the more serious accident is, and also depending on whether or not you’re at fault, you may not have a choice.

Auto Insurance Premiums: Claims vs. Accident-Free Legend: Safe Driver Several Claims ALFA 21st Century State Farm Mercury Nationwide 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200 $93 $157 $121 $186 $124 $149 $138 $215 $139 $206

On the other hand, if you are not at fault, if the other driver’s insurance company is paying for the damages, or if the damage is so minor that you can handle the expense on your own, you could up saving money in the long run by not filing a claim. This is especially true if the cost of repairs is less than your deductible.

We honestly hope you never have to use any of the information we’ve given you today. but if something unfortunate happens while you’re behind the wheel, at least she’ll have the power of knowledge to help make that situation less unpleasant than it has to be. By the way, you can also use our FREE quote generator to make your monthly premium payments less unpleasant than they have to be. just type in your ZIP code, answer a few easy questions, and you can have quotes from several companies in just a few minutes. It couldn’t be easier.