Claiming on your car insurance
If you have adequate insurance cover, you should have no problems making a valid claim – but there are some factors that can speed up or slow down the claims process.
Many claims follow accidents. To stay safe and help smooth the claim process, you need to remember a number of things. Firstly, if you're not seriously injured, switch on your hazard lights to make other traffic aware of the incident. Call an ambulance if anyone is injured, and call the police to inform them of the accident and any debris on the road.
Next, consider your insurance situation:
- Do not rashly admit liability or offer to pay compensation. Take time to gather your thoughts – there have been factors contributing to the accident that you do not yet know about. If you admit blame, it could jeopardise an insurance claim.
- Jot down the registration numbers of all vehicles involved, and the names and contact details of all other drivers, passengers and witnesses.
- Note down your exact location, the road name, and the nearest house, business or landscape feature. If you can, sketch what happened and take photos of the scene.
- Write down anything else that you think might be relevant – such as weather or lighting conditions.
Collecting relevant details after theft or damage to your vehicle
The same applies if you car is broken into or damaged while it's parked – jot down all relevant details and potential witnesses, and take photographs of your vehicle how you found it. Keep a record of any correspondence you have with the police, which will often include a crime reference number.
Contacting your insurance provider
Contact your insurer as soon as possible to report the accident, regardless of whether or not you want to make a claim, and give them as much detail as possible.
If you do wish to claim, you will need to take your car to a local garage approved by your insurance provider so that an assessor can judge the extent of the damage and repair costs. Don't take your car to your regular garage or your insurer could refuse to pay out.
If you claim on your insurance, you'll have to pay the excess and lose any no-claims bonus you've built up. If the accident was another driver's fault and you're claiming off their insurance, however, you won’t have to pay the excess and you won't lose your no-claims – although the additional paperwork and potential disputes over who was at fault may slow down the process.
If you're hit by an uninsured driver you can claim on your own insurance if you have comprehensive cover, but you'll have to pay your excess – and lose your no-claims bonus, unless this is waived in cases involving uninsured drivers. Without comprehensive cover, you may be able to claim from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
Dealing with a write-off
If your car is deemed a write-off (not worth repairing), your insurance provider will offer you a cash sum minus your excess, as long as you have comprehensive insurance. Find out the current value of equivalent cars in terms of age, mileage and model to make sure their offer is fair. If you can’t negotiate a fair amount, ask the Financial Ombudsman Service for assistance.