If you’re lucky, you’ve never been involved in an auto accident. But that doesn’t mean it will never happen. And truthfully, a claim is when you figure out if you have “good” car insurance or not right? Because until you use it, you just don’t know.
But is that really the best time to discover if you have good insurance or not? When you’re in the middle of a stressful situation such as an accident?
Whether you read the policy or not, you should know what your policy covers — and what it doesn’t. No policy can cover every possible situation, but most good policies cover many.
To hopefully save you from a bad claims situation, below are the top 4 questions to ask before filing a car insurance claim.
Question #1- Does my policy cover someone else driving my car, whether listed as a driver on the policy or not?
This is a big one folks. We’ve heard of some insurance companies that flat out refuse to cover a claim because the driver was not listed on the policy (100% true). Each company treats these drivers differently, so you need to know how YOUR company handles it.
Some may allow use with permission (meaning if taken unknowingly, no coverage). Some may require ANY driver that drives the car at all to be listed. Each company treats these drivers differently, so you need to know how YOUR company handles it. Because the last thing you want to find out is that the accident your driver caused is NOT covered.
When in doubt, ask!
Question #2- Does my policy automatically include rental reimbursement coverage in case I have an accident and need a rental car while my car is being fixed?
Some insurance may have very basic rental reimbursement included in the base policy. Others may not include anything and you would have to purchase.
If your insurance company includes a basic amount of rental reimbursement automatically, and that works for you, you may not need to buy the coverage (ding, ding- that’s money saved!)
Of course, if you need more than the basic (for example, the ability to rent a larger vehicle), you can upgrade your coverage in exchange for a small premium. Again, ask what YOUR policy provides, and how to get more if you need it.
Question #3- When does the rental reimbursement coverage begin and end?
Sad fact you need to know now- you don’t get unlimited time or even weeks on end to keep the rental car. Normally, you’ll get the rental shortly before you take your car in to the shop and have it for the length of time your car is being repaired.
In the event that your car is totaled and you need to buy a replacement vehicle, you may be able to negotiate some extra days with the adjuster so you have enough time to go look for a new car.
It’s best to clarify when you can get your rental car and how long you are allowed to have it, so there are no misunderstandings. What if something unexpected happens and you need an extension? Just explain the situation to the adjuster and ask for additional time. If the request is reasonable, then often the adjuster will agree. But you don’t know unless you ask.
Question #4- Do I get to choose the body shop I want to use?
Many insurance companies have “preferred” body shops. Or sometimes it’s called a “Direct Repair Program.” What this means is the shop has an agreement with the insurance company. The idea is that the body shop works directly with the insurance company to provide the estimate and handle all paperwork with the insurance company. The shops are high quality for sure.
But what if the shop you want to work with isn’t a Preferred shop- perhaps because they just don’t want to handle the additional paperwork or some other reason? Then you should know in advance if you HAVE to use the preferred shop in order to get the claim paid or if you get the choice of body shop. Because there’s nothing more upsetting than getting stuck with a huge bill out of pocket because you didn’t use a preferred shop. Again, ask!
These four questions (and answers) can often throw people for a loop- and make a difficult claims situation even more stressful. We hope you never have a car insurance claim, but file these away for future reference in case you do!
In case you do, check out how we help with your claim.