Opening A Property Damage Claim
If you get in a car accident, the first two things you need to do are:
- Report the accident to the police
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver
Under the Division of Motor Vehicle laws of Arizona, you are required to report any accident involving property damage in excess of $500.00 to the appropriate authorities. Even a very minor car accident can cause damages that very easily exceed $500.
Also report the accident to the other driver’s insurance company as soon as possible. They will ask for the police report number and your version of how the accident occurred.
To get reimbursed for the damage to your car, you’ll need to file a property damage claim with insurance.
Here are some steps you need to follow:
- Get a police report
- Have your car inspected at the shop
- Obtain a quote for repairs
- File a claim with insurance
Get a Police Report
Either call the police at the scene of the accident, or immediately afterwards if you have been a victim of a hit and run.
When the police arrive, they will do an assessment of the accident scene, take your statements, and fill out a traffic exchange information slip. They will give you a copy of that.
Keep your copy of the traffic exchange information slip — it provides you with a copy of the police report number. Police reports are available typically 7-10 days after an accident. You can access them online, or request them in person in the records department at the city’s police station.
Get Your Damaged Vehicle Inspected
You must make the damaged vehicle available for inspection by the insurance company before you have it repaired.
Protect your vehicle from further damage and limit your losses. If you don’t, the insurer could refuse to pay for any subsequent damage.
For example, if your vehicle’s fender is damaged in an accident that causes it to rub against the tire, you have an obligation to make emergency repairs to the fender so no further damage will result to the tire.
Obtain a Quote For Repairs
Once the shop completes the damage assessment on your car, they will send you a quote for the car repairs. Make sure the insurer receives a copy of this quote as well.
It is also important to save all receipts for any emergency repairs as these can be submitted later to the company as part of your claim.
The insurance company will compare the cost of car repairs with the actual cash value of the car. If the repairs cost significantly less than the value of your car, they will cover the cost of the repairs at the shop.
Otherwise, your car will be deemed a total loss by the insurer. For more information about total loss, visit this page.
File a Claim With Insurance
Your final step is to file a property damage claim with insurance so you get compensated for the damage.
Most insurance plans have collision and comprehensive coverage for your car. If you were in a car accident on the road, your collision coverage will take care of your repair costs.
However, if your car was damaged by anything other than an auto accident, it is comprehensive coverage that will cover your repairs.
You have a choice whether to file the claim with your own insurance, or with the other driver’s insurer. Check with the other insurer to see how much insurance coverage the other driver has, and compare it with your own before you file with them.
Or, if you want to get your car repaired as soon as possible and quickly resolve your claim, you may file with your own insurance company to move things along faster. Read this article for more information about using your own insurance to cover your property damages.
After Filing Your Property Damage Claim
The other driver’s insurer will investigate the claim and will make a determination whether to pay, negotiate or defend its insured against the claim.
During their investigation, the insurer will need to determine the following:
- Whether their insured is legally responsible for the accident and to what extent
- The amount of your damages
- Whether your damages are directly related to the accident
While there is no law that sets forth the information you must provide the insurer, it is in your best interest to provide as much information as possible to substantiate your claim.
If you fail to cooperate fully with the insurer’s investigation, they could deny your claim altogether.
Need Help With Your Claim?
If you get stuck, or if you are having issues with the insurer processing your claim, contact our office. Our attorneys at Thompson Law Firm are here to help.
Our attorney fees are based upon contingency. This means you only need to pay us once you get reimbursed for your property damage.