What is an Insurance Claim?

Need to file an insurance claim? Learn how the process works.

The whole point of insurance is to protect yourself financially if something goes wrong. When an incident occurs—you wreck your car, a thief snags your laptop, a friend slips on your throw rug and breaks an ankle—you submit a claim. With this request for compensation, you’re essentially asking your insurance provider to make good on your coverage and pay to fix your ride, replace your gear, or pay your friend’s medical bill.

How do I file an insurance claim?

To file a claim, you must:

  • Contact your insurance company. Find out whether you’re covered and the deadline for filing your claim. Ask if you need to get estimates for the cost of any repairs. AAA Insurance customers can call 800-922-8228 to start the claims process.
  • Complete your claim forms. Make sure to include any documentation your insurer requests, such as a police report. If you’re filing a life insurance claim, you’ll need to submit a death certificate. 
  • Contact local law enforcement if your home was robbed or vandalized, or if you were involved in a traffic accident and the police haven’t already taken a report. Note that most states require you to report collisions involving injuries or significant property damage.
  • Document the details of an auto accident. Include the date, time, and what happened; the other driver’s name, address, and phone number; and a description of the other driver’s vehicle, including the license plate number. When safe to do so, take pictures of any damage.
  • Keep track of expenses you incur as a result of your accident, such as medical bills.
  • Prepare for a visit from a claims adjuster if your home was damaged. Put together a list of items that were damaged or destroyed. Be ready to show the adjuster around the property.
  • Your claims representative will explain the process and answer any questions, such as when you can expect the claim to be paid and whether your policy covers transportation expenses, such as a rental car, while your vehicle is being repaired.

What’s the insurance claim process?

After your unfortunate event, you’ll want to get back into the groove of life as quickly as possible.

Here’s how the claims process works:

  • Your claim will be reviewed by a claims adjuster to make sure that your damages are covered by your policy.
  • If your claim is approved, a claims adjuster will determine the payout due to you and you’ll receive a payment. Keep in mind that the first payment may simply be an advance (a portion of the total amount owed to you), so you may receive additional payments.

Do I use my insurance in a no-fault incident?

Usually, your own policy provides medical payments, or “MedPay,” coverage for your medical costs, and your policy’s collision coverage will cover damages to your vehicle

Adding certain coverages to your insurance plan will enhance your protection. For example, personal injury protection (PIP) will cover your medical costs up to your plan’s limit and may even cover lost wages. Uninsured motorist coverage has your back, too, if the at-fault driver lacks insurance. In 12 states, including Utah, traffic collisions are always “no-fault.” This means drivers are responsible for their own injuries and damages.

How does a claim affect my rate?

Your insurance policy is reviewed during your renewal period to determine how any claims might impact your rates.

If you’re the at-fault driver in a collision, it’s likely that your insurance premium will go up, at least slightly, after the auto insurance claim process is finished. The increase is typically influenced by your driving history and the severity of the incident.

After filing a home insurance or personal property insurance claim, however, you can expect a sizable increase—especially if you file multiple claims within a few years of one another. The type of claim also has a significant impact on your rate increase. For example, in terms of increases, liability claims are usually more severe than theft or vandalism.

How does a not-at-fault claim affect my rate?

Not-at-fault claims usually won’t affect your rate—even if you have to go through your own insurance company. But in some cases, your premium may increase if you are unable to file an at-fault claim with the other party—for example, if you’re in a hit-and-run and cannot get the other driver’s information. If this happens, the adjustment is likely to be lower than it would be if you were the at-fault driver.

The availability, qualifications, and amounts of coverages, costs and discounts may vary from state to state and there may be coverages and discounts not listed here. In addition, other terms, conditions, and exclusions not described above may apply, and total savings may vary depending on the coverages purchased. For more information regarding your eligibility for certain coverages and savings opportunities, please contact your AAA agent.

Insurance products in California offered by AAA Northern California Insurance Agency. License #0175868, in Nevada by AAA Nevada and in Utah by AAA Utah. Insurance provided by CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer.