Have you ever seen the commercials where the guy gets in a wreck, calls his insurance company from the scene and has a check in hand within minutes? If so, remove that image from your head right now. That just isn’t how it is done. Some insurance companies do have a relatively streamlined process, but you aren’t going to get a check the day of the accident, much less within an hour and certainly not within minutes. There are procedures to follow and paper work to be processed to properly review an insurance claim. Take a look at the entire process of filing an insurance claim in this post.
Something must have happened for you to file an insurance claim. Maybe you got robbed or got into an accident. The very first step in the process is to call the police, not the insurance company. Without a police report on file, the incident never even happened as far as the insurance company is concerned. You can ask for a copy of the report that day or you can go to the station or courthouse and get a report upon the insurance company’s request.
Once you have notified the police, contact your insurance agent. Know that your insurance agent is not the one you will be dealing with. He or she is going to immediately transfer you to the claims department. Your insurance agent handles insurance sales and adjustments to your policy. He or she does not handle claims.
When you are referred to the claims department be prepared to answer questions concerning time, day, extent of the damage, and so forth. At some point you will be asked to send over a copy of the police report. You may also be asked to send over a receipt for the item concerned so that appropriate value can be assessed.
In some cases, the claims department will come out to the location to asses the damage or have you bring the item to the office to properly assess the insurance claim. For example, if your car got keyed, you might be asked to drive to the claims department so that someone can look at the damage. When extensive reviews are needed, such as when a house fire occurs, the entire process is help up until the property is released for use to the homeowner. For example, a claim cannot be processed while a home is under investigation for arson.
When you call the claims department, be sure to mention your needs to them to see what is covered. You may need to rent a car or a motel room immediately. If this is covered by your insurance, they can give you the details concerning where you can go and the steps you need to complete. When it is all said and done, if all of the requirements have been met, a check will be issued. However, if there is a lien on the property, the check may be issued directly to the company doing the repairs or the lien holder.
Remember that the insurance company is there to help you out, but as a business they also have to make sure all the details are covered and all the paper work is in order. The process of covering an insurance claim can take weeks and sometimes even months to complete.