A simples guide

The claim process explained

The aftermath of a car accident can be a trying time. Confusion, stress and anxiety can mean you forget to do the important things, like telling your car insurance provider in good time. So we’ve put together this guide so that you know what to do if that time ever comes.

Do I have to make a claim if I have an accident?

If you’ve had an accident, you don’t have to make a claim on your car insurance. However, you do need to tell your insurance provider about the accident.

Most insurance providers state in their terms and conditions that you need to tell them about any accident you’re involved in; if you don’t inform them, you could invalidate your policy.

car accident

Why do I need to tell my insurance provider about an accident if I don’t want to claim?

Personal injury claims can be made against you years after you have an accident, so notifying your provider means they can be prepared. It also means that your insurance provider won’t compensate a third party without your knowledge.

Is there a car accident claim time limit?

You should tell your insurance provider about your accident (whether or not you want to make a claim) within a reasonable amount of time. The definition of ‘reasonable’ will be set out in your policy documents.

Some insurance providers expect to be told within two days, while others will give you two weeks. Stick to whatever your policy states, as not doing so could invalidate any claim you make.


Why would I not make a claim on my insurance?

You might decide that you’d be financially better off paying for any repairs yourself. This could be the case if you stand to lose some (or all) of your no claims discount, which could impact on the cost of your insurance at renewal.

And if the repairs to your car are likely to cost less than your excess, your insurance provider will probably expect you to sort out paying for any damage yourself.

How do I tell my insurance provider about an accident?

Give your insurance provider a call – some of them have dedicated claim lines. Make a note of what you want to say, so that you don’t forget to tell them anything. You’ll probably be asked to complete a claim form detailing the accident. Include any photos you have as these will back up your statement and show any damage first-hand.

Your insurance provider may ask that you have your car repaired in an approved garage, so don’t do anything until you’ve spoken to them. Getting your car fixed in an unapproved garage could mean your insurance provider decides not to pay out.

If you decide you don’t want to make a claim when you tell you provider about an accident, make this very clear and back it up in writing. Send a letter or email stating that the details you’re providing are for information only.

What information will my insurance provider need if I make a claim?

If you’ve been involved in an accident with another vehicle, then you need to exchange details at the scene of the incident. Your insurance provider will need:

- The registration of the other vehicle or vehicles involved
- The name, address and phone number of the other driver/s and any witnesses
- The insurance details of the other driver/s involved

If a driver of a vehicle isn’t the registered keeper, then make sure you have the information for the person who is, as your insurance provider will ask you for these details when you come to claim.

Your insurance provider might also ask you questions about the accident, such as when and where it happened, what time of day it was, what the weather was like and whether there were any roadworks.

If your car has been stolen or vandalised, you’ll need to give your insurance provider a crime reference number, which you can get from the police. If you have any photos of the vandalism, it might be helpful to send these too.

car insurance

Will making a claim affect the cost of my insurance?

Making a claim could affect your insurance. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, if you make a claim and your insurance provider can’t recoup all the costs from another driver’s insurance provider, your premium is likely to rise as a result of the claim.

And even if you don’t make a claim you could see an increase in your insurance. That’s because some insurance providers have statistical evidence to show that those drivers who have had an accident (even one that wasn’t their fault and they didn’t claim for it), are more likely to be involved in another accident later on.

Will making a claim affect my no claims discount (NCD)?

If you’ve protected your no claims discount, then making a claim shouldn’t affect the number of years that contribute to your NCD. However, your car insurance premium could still increase, and that’s because your insurance premium is calculated before your NCD is applied. So, if you’ve had an accident, the basic cost of your premium is likely to go up.

Your NCD is applied after that premium is calculated, so although your NCD discount remains the same, the actual cost of your premium has risen – resulting in an overall increase.

If you haven’t protected your NCD, making a claim for an accident that was your fault will certainly affect your NCD years.

How can I get a good deal on my car insurance?

At comparethemarket.com, we’ve made it our business to help you find a deal on your car insurance. Just answer a few simple questions and we’ll take it from there – so let’s start comparing.

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