Report a Car Insurance Claim
In the event of an accident, The General® is prepared to assist you with your car insurance claim and guide you through the process.
Claims Contact Information
Report a new claim 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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For existing policy holders.
Claims Department Information
For existing claims our hours of operation are Monday - Friday: 8am - 5pm (EST-PST)
6000 American Parkway
Madison, WI 53783‑0001
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Please include your claim number on all correspondence and send via one of the above methods.
If you'd like more information on what to do after an accident or how to report a car accident insurance claim, you can watch our videos below.
Car Insurance Accident Claim
You should always file a car accident claim if other drivers were involved, even if the damage appears to be minor or if you don’t have full coverage car insurance. One of the reasons your insurance company is there is to protect you against unreasonable demands and lawsuits from other drivers, which, unfortunately, can sometimes arise when drivers settle outside of their insurance companies.
If no other cars or drivers were involved in your accident – you backed into a tree, for example – then it’s up to you whether or not you should contact your insurance company. If you do contact them, you run the risk of raising the cost of your insurance premium, especially if you’ve been involved in a number of other accidents in recent years.
If the damage is minor, and the cost doesn’t meet your deductible, it might be worth it to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket. You know your financial situation and are the best one to determine the right route for you in event of such an accident.
The insurance claims process can be long, and sometimes frustrating, lasting anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. However, it’s a necessary process to make certain of a fair outcome for all parties involved. The length and complexity of the process usually depends upon the severity of the accident. A fender bender is usually resolved quite quickly, while an accident resulting in severe injuries or fatalities will take a lot longer.
The most common first step after a car insurance claim is the assignment of a claims adjustor. They will usually get in touch with you within a few days after the accident. The adjustor will want to get your side of the story, take pictures of the damages to your car, talk to the other drivers involved or any witnesses, and more. Basically, the claims adjustor will be your go-to person throughout the claims processing.
While the car insurance claims process is taking place, your insurance company will typically cover all of your damages and injuries. Once fault is determined, the insurance agencies will negotiate over which company will pay for which specific damages/injuries.
If another driver was involved, you should always report an accident as soon as it’s safe to do so. As far as what the definitive time frame is, that’s hard to say. Different insurance companies have different windows of time. If you’re unsure, you should read your policy agreement, or talk to your insurance agent.
Most auto insurance agencies have a toll-free 24-hour car insurance claims hotline. You can usually find it printed directly on your policy. If not, simply call your auto insurance company and speak with an agent. They will point you in the right direction to get the car accident insurance claim process started.
An auto accident is a major inconvenience and sometimes more serious, but we work hard for you to make the process as straightforward as possible. We know you don’t need the additional stress of trying to navigate insurance issues on your own. We are there to help you every step of the way during this difficult time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. In exchange for paying your premiums, the insurance company agrees to provide you with coverage if an accident occurs.
When an accident happens, you must report it to your insurance company. If your vehicle was damaged or anyone was injured, you would file a claim for car repair (if you bought collision and comprehensive coverage) and for payment of your medical expenses. If you can’t work for a while because of your injuries, your insurance may potentially cover your lost income.
The claim is investigated, and if everything goes smoothly, the claim is paid. There are times when claims are not as smoothly resolved, such as when each driver says the other is at fault and/or the evidence is unclear.
Just because a driver is partly at fault for an accident doesn’t always mean they won’t receive compensation; they’ll just typically receive less than if they were not at fault.
While insurance companies handle the claims process in their own ways, the basic claims reporting procedures are similar. The driver should report the accident as soon as possible. Have the following information and documents on hand when filing your car insurance claim:
- Location, date, and time of the accident
- Contact information for the other driver and their insurer
- Make and model number of other driver’s car
- Copy of the police report
- Names and badge numbers of responding officers
You’ll hear from an insurance adjuster within a few days. The adjuster conducts an investigation of the accident, including vehicle damage inspection.
If you live in a no-fault state for insurance, your claim is usually paid by your insurance company. In fault states, the at-fault driver’s insurance should pay for the claim.
Car insurance claims can cover medical bills relating to the accident, lost wages, and property damage, depending on your type of coverage purchased. Keep careful records while you’re recovering from your accident or of any repairs made to the vehicle.
There are various ways to file an auto insurance claim. You might decide to call the insurance company’s toll-free number to report the claim. Most insurance companies have representatives available 24/7 to take your information. You can also file your claim online at the insurance company’s website.
Filing your car insurance claim should be easy, and perhaps the best way to file an auto insurance claim is via a mobile app. Our award-winning mobile app allows customers to conduct all of their car insurance business, including claim filing. You can use The General Mobile App to submit a new claim and view current claims. You can also send photos directly from the scene of the accident, and make sure to include the details regarding the incident upon sending your photos.
Every car insurance claim is unique. Some relatively straightforward claims are settled quickly, and you could have your money within a week or so. That is especially true of property claims, such as glass replacement. Your insurer also may require you to go to certain garages for repairs, which can impact how long your car is out of commission.
If anyone was injured in the crash, the claim will take longer to settle. Most insurance companies aim to have claims settled within 30 days.
State laws and insurance company regulations also affect how long it takes to settle car insurance claims. Every state allows a certain amount of time for claim filing. Keep in mind that the insurance company’s deadline may differ from the state’s deadline, so make sure to check your deadlines.
You don’t need a police report for all car insurance claims, unless your policy states that all accidents must be reported to the police, but you will need to file one if anyone was injured or if the cars were badly damaged. State laws differ for when a police report is necessary for a minor accident, but a police report can help your car accident insurance claim.
Insurance companies like to see police reports because they provide third-party documentation of what happened at the scene. In many cases, each driver blames the other for the collision. The police report provides information from both drivers and it is typically written right after the accident. The law enforcement officer will also note the weather and road conditions at the time of the crash.
Lack of a police report may delay your claim. Other evidence, such as photos taken at the scene and eyewitness accounts, can be a useful resource to assist with your claim after a minor accident if a police report was not filed.
Not every car insurance claim receives approval. Common reasons for claim denial include:
- The claim amount is above the coverage limit.
- The coverage limit has already been met.
- The policyholder did not buy the necessary coverage.
Without purchase of collision or comprehensive coverage, a car accident insurance claim for car repairs would be denied.
The insurance company can also deny a claim if the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident. The same holds true if the driver lacks a license.
The policy might state that drivers must report all accidents to the police. If a driver doesn’t report the accident, the insurer may deny the claim. If the driver or another occupant of the vehicle alleges they were injured but never sought medical attention after the crash, a denial is likely.
When a claim is rejected, you’ll have to pay any damages to the other driver out of your pocket. You can file a claims denial complaint with your state’s Department of Insurance.
Filing a claim can raise your car insurance rates. It’s good to know a company’s policy on how claims will affect rates before buying insurance, so make sure to ask about the average percentage that rates are raised after a claim.
Maybe you think not reporting the accident and paying to have the car repaired out-of-pocket is a better idea. Each state has their own laws regarding when an accident requires reporting, and your insurance policy probably says you must report all accidents promptly.
There are some situations where it is better to pay for the repairs yourself. Say you hit a fence on your own property and cause minor damage. By paying for the repair, you won’t have to worry about a rise in premiums. However, if you have the same accident in someone else’s driveway and hit their fence, you should report the accident.
The person may report the collision to their insurance company to have their fence replaced, and your insurance company could find out you never reported the incident. Regardless of the situation, you should report accidents to your insurance company in accordance with your policy and your state laws.