How the car insurance claims process works – Forbes Advisor INDIA


Insurance is a term we hear almost every day. From life insurance to health to travel, almost everything we do these days is insured, which means we have a safety net if something untoward happens.

The ongoing pandemic has especially shown us how important it is to be prepared for the unexpected and how insurance works to protect us and our belongings, including our cars. It is therefore essential to know the details of our car insurance policy. Here is a checklist of things you need to know when making an insurance claim for your car.

How important is car insurance?

Comprehensive auto insurance coverage provides you with significant benefits and is extremely important when considering financial health and well-being. First of all, you cannot buy a car and drive it in India without some form of car insurance.

As per the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, it is compulsory for all vehicles in India to have third party liability insurance. Also, instead of just buying the minimum amount of insurance or choosing the cheapest policy available, it would be beneficial to invest in comprehensive car insurance coverage that actually protects you from all problems including all man-made and natural calamities. Second, car insurance helps you recover from unfortunate incidents in several ways. These include:

  • Provide financial benefits to survivors in the event the accident results in fatal injuries.
  • To provide cover against possible legal proceedings, including legal costs, in the event of legal proceedings following an accident.
  • Provide coverage on vehicle repair bills resulting from accident damage.
  • Provide coverage in the event of any other man-made or natural calamity causing damage to the car.
  • Car insurance also allows customers to benefit from premium reductions in the event of theft.
  • Having multiple policies with the same insurance provider also offers significant premium discounts.
  • Comprehensive car insurance policies also allow you to extend coverage to others driving your car with your permission, protecting you even when you’re not driving.
  • If you make no claims at the end of your policy or term, you will be entitled to a no-claim bonus on renewals, as long as you meet certain predetermined conditions.

What is the auto insurance claims process?

The main purpose of buying an insurance policy is to ensure that when you need it, the money from the insurance can help you with the associated expenses. From this perspective, when it comes to insurance, the “moment of truth” is defined by the ease of the claims and settlement process.

Once you’ve decided to buy a car and take out all-risk insurance cover, you may be wondering how to proceed in the event of an accident or other untoward incident. Here’s a detailed breakdown of all the things you need to keep in mind when it comes to the auto insurance claims process.

First of all, an insurance claim is a formal request, from the policyholder to the insurer, demanding compensation for the damage or loss suffered. Once the claim has been processed and verified, the insurer offers compensation in accordance with the guaranteed coverage to the customer, under the insurance contract.

Types of complaints

You can make the claim in two ways: the cashless method or the refund method. After an accident, if you have your car repaired at a partner garage, your claim is settled without cash. Insurance companies have ties to garage chains, so it’s best to inquire about garages that are partnered with your insurance company, for the best and fastest claim resolutions.

In this scenario, the insurer makes direct payments to the partner garage, which makes it more convenient. If you have your car repaired at a garage that is not in partnership with your insurer, you will need to make the payments and get the invoices.

Once this is done, you will be able to get the repair bills reimbursed by the insurer. Claims for reimbursement may also be filed when you have third party claims against you. If you pay the third party directly, you can obtain reimbursement from your insurer, according to the terms mentioned in the policy. Here is a series of questions that arise when you file a car insurance claim.

Documents required when filing a car insurance claim

Depending on the nature of your claim, you will need to provide some or all of the following documents:

  • Copy of your car insurance policy
  • Copy of your driving license
  • Copy of your car registration certificate
  • First Information Report (FIR)
  • Estimation of damage and repairs
  • Medical report (only in case of physical injuries)
  • All records of other expenses claimed
  • Photos if available

Steps to File a Personal Vehicle Damage Claim

You will need to follow these steps when filing a claim for damage to your own car:

  • First, you need to make sure you let your company know ahead of time before you send your car to the garage for repair. Once you’ve done this, the company will send an expert to examine and verify the damage, making it easier to pay out claims. You and your insurer will both receive copies of the examiner’s report, offering evidence of the damage caused and an assessment of the extent of the damage.
  • Second, you must complete and submit the designated claim form to your insurance provider. It can be done both online and offline. However, you need to make sure that you don’t omit any important details.
  • Third, along with the form, you must submit the requested documents which usually include a copy of your driver’s license and registration certificate. In the event of theft or a traffic accident, you must also provide a copy of the FIR filed with the police.
  • Once the car is repaired and you receive the invoice, you must submit a copy of the invoice to complete your claim.
  • After reviewing and verifying all documents, the insurance company will process the claim and reimburse you for any damages incurred.

Steps to File a Third Party Damage Claim

If you were involved in an accident that caused injury to third parties or damage to third party property, you can follow these steps to file the claim:

  • Inform your insurance company as soon as you receive the notice of loss. Along with this, also submit your car registration certificate, driver’s license and FIR filed with the police.
  • The insurer will provide you with the services of a lawyer once the documents have been verified.
  • Once the case goes to court, if you are required to pay damages, your insurer will make the payment on your behalf, based on the sum insured.

Steps to file a theft complaint

If your car has been stolen, you can take the following steps to file a claim with your insurer:

  • First, as soon as possible, file a complaint with the police and file an FIR. Once done, send a copy of the FIR to your insurance company. Along with this, also send a copy of the final police report along with the registration certificate.
  • Once the documents have been checked, and all the formalities completed, the insurance company will reimburse you the sum insured.

What to do after a car accident?

Accidents are unexpected and they tend to confuse us. If you are involved in an accident, these items can help you file a claim more effectively:

  • Immediately assess yourself and your car for damage. Depending on your condition, decide whether you need medical assistance or not.
  • Try to write down the contact details of the other party, in case another vehicle is involved in the accident. This will help identify the other party earlier.
  • If possible, write down the contact details of nearby witnesses as they can corroborate your story.
  • Inform your insurance company and ask for an adjuster.
  • If you have access to a partner garage, you can now choose the cashless claim option to make the process easier.
  • Most insurers require claims to be submitted within 24 hours of the accident, so make sure you don’t delay this.
  • Keep all required documents handy to ensure your application is processed as quickly as possible.

bottom line

Owning a car is a pleasure, but it is also a responsibility. It’s important to be fully prepared in the event of an accident, and comprehensive car insurance is the only way to be properly prepared. In addition, it is also important to be familiar with the claims process because often we worry and forget important details after having an accident.

Remember, it’s best to make it easier for your insurance company to reimburse your claims, so take all possible steps to ensure that you can file a successful claim following an unfortunate incident. As they say, prevention is always better than cure.

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