Most insurance contracts have an excess, which must be paid no matter what damage occurs to your car. You have to pay it because you’ve entered into a legal contract, where you’ve agreed to pay the initial amount of any insurance claim.
However, if you weren’t at fault, you can claim back any excess from the other party’s insurance company. Unfortunately, you may lose part of the your ‘no claims discount’.
How to make a claim
Write down the details of the accident straight away, and tell your insurance company as soon as you can, many have a 24-hour helpline.
All documents that are relevant to the claim should be kept safe, and make sure you keep all receipts and that you photocopy any correspondence that is associated with your claim.
Also, make sure the your insurance company has your current contact details, so they can get in touch with you when necessary.
What can you claim for?
You can make a claim following an accident, if the other driver was fully or partially responsible, for the following things:
Repairs to your vehicle
Your Insurance Policy excess
Loss of earnings
Damage to your property
Transport costs, such as taxi fares, or the reasonable cost of hiring a vehicle
What paperwork do you need?
Although some insurance companies are happy to take all of the details over the telephone, most will send an accident report form for you to to complete. If you’re asked to fill one in, provide as much information as you can. Include details of the accident, theft or fire and any information you can about third parties involved and their insurers.
In the case of an accident, you’ll be asked to give a sketch of the incident and if you have taken photographs provide these too.
It’s important to ask the insurer exactly what they require, and what evidence they’ll be expecting from you to support your claim.
What about car repairs?
Never take your car in for repairs without authorisation from your insurance company, as they’ll most likely recommend a garage. Your insurance company needs to agree to pay your car repair costs, so if you get your car repaired before then, the costs become your responsibility.
You should get concrete conformation about the state of your insurance claim before proceeding with any repairs to your car. Remember that you will be required to pay the agreed level of excess even if your insurer will meet the repair costs, and this payment will normally be made straight to the garage that repairs your car.
What if your claim is rejected?
Firstly, check your policy. Ask your company to identify specifically the clause of the contract on which they are rejecting your claim. If you do not have a current policy, make sure they supply one.
There are circumstances where you may in fact have the legal right to be reimbursed for your loss even though the insurance company is refusing to pay the claim. Ideally, it’s best to get some legal advice in this situation.
The whole claims procedure will be much quicker if you follow your insurer’s recommendations fully, and they can deal with the car repairer directly. Your insurance company may also provide a courtesy car while your vehicle is being repaired, subject to your level of cover.
Always make sure you are fully covered in case you do have an accident.