How do you file an accident claim?

Question from Samuel B. from Carmel:

I saw a minor fender-bender yesterday in a roundabout on my way to work, and I realized I have no idea what I’m supposed to do if I have to file an auto claim. What should I know?

Response from Jamie Ianigro:

Being in an automobile accident, no matter how minor, is a scary thing. Your independent insurance agent should be able to provide you with a card to keep in your glove box that outlines everything you need to do if you are in an accident. Here is what we recommend.

1. Take a deep breath and assess the situation. Get your vehicle and passengers out of further harm if the vehicle is still operable.

2. Make sure no one in your vehicle needs immediate medical attention. Next, check the occupants of any other vehicle involved.

3. Call the police. It doesn’t matter how minor the accident. Having a police report filed will make your claim process much smoother.

4. Exchange insurance information and record the details. Make sure the other driver’s insurance is not out of date. Get their phone number, address, license plate number and the make and model of their car.

5. Use your camera phone to take pictures of your car from every angle and of any damage.

6. Obtain a copy of the police report and call your independent agent to file a claim.

Driving without insurance coverage in Indiana is illegal and a great way to end up with a suspended license or serious financial problems. The starting point for insurance in Indiana is the required state minimum coverages. The minimums are $25,000 per injured person, $50,000 per accident and $10,000 for property damage. The current cost of medical expenses and auto repairs make it clear that those amounts are not going to get you very far when it comes time to settle a claim. They also provide you zero protection from motorists that drive around without insurance or with the inadequate state minimum insurance.

I recommend limits of $250,000 per injured person, $500,000 per accident and $100,000 for property damage with an endorsement to protect you from uninsured and underinsured motorists. You can also get a discount by packaging these policies together with your homeowner’s policy. Let me know if you have any further questions about this and drive safely.