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Everything you need to know about making an insurance claim after a car accident

Knowing what to do after a car accident will help the insurance claims process go as smoothly as possible. Read on to find out more about the steps you need to take to make a claim.

Everything you need to know about making an insurance claim after a car accident

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What should I do after an accident? 

If you have been involved in an accident with another driver’s car and need to make a car insurance claim, the first step is to take down the following details and be prepared to reciprocate:

  • The registration number of their car

  • Name and address of the other driver

  • Phone number of the other driver

  • Car insurance details of the other driver

You might also want to take the names and contact details of others in the car, any witnesses and particularly anybody injured. If you are not driving your own car you should provide the name and contact details of the car’s owner.

The Road Traffic Act 1988 s170(2) says if you are the driver and involved in an accident causing damage and/or injury to someone else, the driver ”must stop and, if required to do so by any person having reasonable grounds for so requiring, give his name and address and also the name and address of the owner and the identification marks of the vehicle.”

Should I take photos if I have crashed?

Regardless of the nature of the claim you need to be making, it’s best to take some photos immediately after the incident. You should also make a sketch showing where the vehicles were, the direction they were travelling and any key features or where witnesses were standing. Note the weather conditions and road surfaces.

This can help you remember the events better if the insurance company needs to get back to you weeks later. More importantly, however, it can verify your statement and confirm the details of your claim.

If your car was stolen or the other driver involved in an accident with your car is not insured, you will want to contact the police to report the incident before you speak to your insurer about making a claim.

If anybody is injured in the accident you must call the police. You should, if possible, get the names and contact details of anybody hurt.

What should I tell my insurer when making a claim?

If the accident involved another car you’ll need to provide your insurer with the following details:

  • The vehicle registration number of the other car

  • Name and address of the other driver

  • Phone number of the other driver

  • Car insurance details of the other driver (and car owner if different)

  • Names and addresses of other passengers in the both cars or other involved/injured

  • Names and contact detail of any witnesses

  • A police reference number if the police were called

You should also tell your insurer the time and date of the accident, the weather conditions at the time, and how the accident happened. If you took photos, then these will also come in handy.

Be aware that if you have a minor accident that's below the cost of your excess, the insurance company will expect you to resolve it yourself.

What if the other driver is uninsured?

If the other driver is uninsured, you will need to report the accident to the police as it's required by law for all motorists to have insurance. You'll also need to inform your insurer who should be able to help you with the next steps of making a claim.

How long after an accident can I claim on insurance?

It’s vital that you tell your insurer as soon as possible after an accident so not to invalidate your cover.

When you take out car insurance, insurers set out time periods in which you must contact them after an accident. Check your car insurance policy for the details – time periods can vary from two days to two weeks after the incident.

How do I make a car insurance claim?

To help you make a successful claim, follow our car insurance checklist:

  • Unless you’re certain you were at fault, don’t admit liability at the scene of an accident

  • Make sure to exchange personal details with the other driver, including your name and address, phone number, car registration number, the make and model of the car and your insurance details

  • Note the time, date and location of the accident and make a drawing of the accident if possible and include any photos you may have taken at the scene

  • Complete all details on the claim form and provide extra details if required

  • Provide the contact details of any witnesses to the accident

  • Get a crime number from the police if the car insurance claim is as a result of a theft or vandalism, or you believe the accident was unlawful - such as suspected speeding or drunk driving or if the other driver is not insured

Once you’ve contacted your insurer you'll usually be sent a form to complete — try to give your insurer as much information as possible and provide all relevant documents when making a car insurance claim.

Notify your insurer even if it’s only a minor accident — failure to do this could invalidate your car insurance.

Can I make a car insurance claim if it wasn’t my fault?

If you are involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, this could be considered a ‘non-fault claim’. This means if another driver was at fault, your insurance provider will try to recover the cost of any repairs from the other driver’s insurance provider. 

If your insurer is successful, this will be recorded on your insurance history as a non-fault claim. 

Unfortunately, a non-fault claim will still push up the cost of your car insurance, but it shouldn’t have as much as effect as an at-fault claim – in other words, a claim where you are liable for damages. 

It’s also possible that you will lose some or all of your no claims bonus (NCB) with a non-fault claim unless it was protected at the time of the accident. You can find out more about non-fault claims in our guide

Car insurance claim process — what happens next?

If other people were involved in the accident, your insurer will contact the insurance companies of the other people to resolve the claims.

Some insurers only agree to pay for car repairs carried out by their own approved mechanics — wait for your insurer to contact you with the garage details before rushing to have your car fixed as you could end up paying for the repairs yourself.

You may not have to pay any excess if it can be proved that the accident was not your fault and your insurance company can recover the money from the other driver's insurance.

If you caused the accident then you will almost certainly have to pay the excess and, as a result, your car insurance premium is likely to increase in the future.

How long does an insurance claim take? 

The length of time it will take to receive your settlement will depend on a number of factors, including how quickly you reported the accident and whether it’s clear who was at fault. 

If there is a dispute over who was to blame, if the accident was severe, or there is a lack of evidence, it’s likely to take longer.

Can an insurer refuse to pay my claim?

Yes it is possible for an insurer to turn down your claim, but it must give you a reason. If you think your insurer’s decision is unreasonable, you can try to negotiate. 

If you are still not satisfied, you can make a formal complaint through the insurer’s complaints process. You should be able to find this on your insurer’s website. If you remain unsatisfied, you can take your case tot eh Financial Ombudsman’s Service.

What if a car insurance claim is made against me? 

If the other driver decides to make a claim against your insurance and the accident was your fault, the process should be straight forward, providing you agree you were to blame. 

Once you have informed your insurer, they will take over handling the claims process and you won’t need to do anything else. You won’t have to pay an excess if a third party is claiming against you.

If you don’t agree that the accident was your fault, your insurer will investigate the evidence further to determine who was to blame. The claim will either then be settled in full by either driver or on a split liability percentage between both parties. 

How much will my insurance go up after an accident? 

The size of your car insurance premium increase will depend on whether or not you were at fault. If the accident was not your fault, the price hike will be much smaller than if you were to blame. 

Your premium increase will also depend on other factors such as whether you’ve made a claim on your insurance before, the cause and severity of the accident, and your overall driving history. However, you’ll usually be looking at an increase of between 20% to 50%.

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