What to expect when filing an insurance claim

August 27, 2020

Learn what to expect when you file an insurance claim

A woman filing an insurance claim for an auto accident

If you've never had to file a claim before, it can seem like a daunting task - especially while dealing with the stress that comes with damaged property. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be, and information can help make the process more manageable. Whether you're dealing with damage to your home or your vehicle, we'll tell you what to expect when filing an insurance claim - read on!

Call your insurance company 

If your vehicle or home has been damaged, it's important to file an insurance claim as soon as possible. Not only does this help an insurance company repair or replace your property as soon as possible, it ensures that all of the relevant details are clear.

To start that process, you must first contact your insurance company to report the claim. Typically, this will put you in contact with a customer service representative in the claims department. They are the first point of contact for you, the insured, and not only do they get the ball rolling on the claim, they set the tone for the entire process. 

When you've been involved in an auto accident, or if some disaster has damaged your home, you're likely to be (understandably) stressed out. That's why it's so important that the customer service agent on the other end of the line is helpful, empathetic, and understanding of the stress you likely feel. It's about more than just taking your information - it's about letting you know that they are there for you. You're right to be worried or upset, and it is their job to make you feel at ease. 

During that first call, the customer service agent will need to take all of the necessary details regarding your insurance policy and the claim you are filing. Before you make the call, it's a good idea to have this information on hand:
  • Your insurance policy number
  • Your personal information, such as your name and address
  • Details regarding the claim
  • If it is an auto claim, have your police report information on hand, as well as information about any other party involved
This is also a good time to ask any questions you may have about your policy if you don't have them on hand, or simply want to confirm. For example, you may want to ask about coverage types, coverage limits, and deductibles. You may also want to inquire about certain policy features, such as a temporary auto rental if your car isn't driveable, or temporary housing if your home is severely damaged. 

Once the representative has all of the information they need from you, they submit the claim into their system where it is assigned to a claims adjuster. 

Meet with an adjuster

Shortly after your claim has been filed, a claims adjuster representing your insurance company will take up the case. They'll reach out to you as soon as possible and arrange a time to inspect the claim. 

While traditionally auto and property claims inspections have been performed in person, mobile technology is making it easier for adjusters to work remotely. For auto claims, many insurance companies have partnerships with a number of local body shops who can perform inspections and deliver estimates, too. When you're contacted by the adjuster, make sure to inquire about such services, as they can typically save you time.

Either way, the purpose of the inspection is to evaluate a claim, assess the damage, determine if it is a covered loss, and provide an estimate for repairs. Most of the time, the claims adjuster is able to write a check for the covered damages on the spot. 

Getting your payment and making repairs to your home or vehicle

While in many cases, adjusters are able to give you a check on the spot, there may be circumstances where the check is paid to the repair shop or contractor. Of course, this depends on your insurance provider and your policy. For example, if your choose to go with a prefered shop that your provider recommends, they may pay the shop directly. There are also some cases where a home repair contractor may ask you to sign a legal document which instructs the insurance provider to send the funds to the contractor. However, you should never do this without speaking to your insurance provider first.

If you are making loan or mortgage payments, your provider might sign the claim to the lender, or possibly both you and the lender. Furthermore, your carrier cannot directly give you the check if there is a lien on your vehicle or property. 

The mission of any good insurance company is to help its policyholders return their property to the state it was in prior to the damage, or otherwise replace it with property of like kind and quality. For a vehicle, this might mean using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, aftermarket parts, or possibly recycled parts, depending on how the policy has been written. Regardless of where the part comes from, it should restore the vehicle to the state it was in prior to the damage. 

Finally, remember that the initial payment doesn't necessarily mean that the case is closed, or that it is the final payment. If, for example, further damage is discovered while making repairs to your car, your provider would provide additional funds to repair it as long as it is part of the covered loss. 

How long does the claims process take?

While insurance is about replacing or repairing damaged property, it's also important that it happens in a timely manner. If you have to go without your car for three weeks, or are displaced from your home for months, it's not good for anybody. 

According to guidelines put in place by the Texas Department of Insurance, an insurance provider has 15 days to let you know whether or not they are accepting the claim. But when you have a damaged roof or a car that needs repairs, even 15 days can be a long time. 

In many cases, a standard roof claim shouldn't take longer than one week from the day the claim is filed to the day the check is issued. For an auto claim, you should normally have a payment within two days, or 16 business hours, from the time you file the claim.

 A man filing an insurance claim for a leaking roof

When you’re filing a claim, great customer service is essential. Since 1896, Germania Insurance has been the Insurance Texans Trust for great coverage and outstanding customer service. But don’t take our word for it! Hear what our customers have to say

For more information about our insurance products, request a free quote online, or reach out to one of our trusted agents today!

Read more: There's a lot to learn about insurance in Texas! That's why we've put together these guides for auto insurance and home insurance in Texas. 

by Geoff Ullrich

About the Author

Geoff Ullrich is a writer and Content Marketing Strategist at Germania Insurance.

What do you want to read more about? For suggestions, questions, or content-related inquiries, contact us at content@germaniainsurance.com!

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