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 insurance provider in good time. So we’ve put together this guide so that you know what to do if that time ever comes – forewarned is forearmed after all. 


Do I have to make a claim?

If you’ve had an accident, it’s important to understand all your options – it’ll help you choose the most appropriate course of action. You don’t have to make a claim on your insurance, although you do have to tell your insurance provider about any accident you’ve been involved in.

car accident

Why would I not make a claim on my insurance?

If the repairs are likely to cost less than your excess, your insurance provider will most probably expect you to sort out the repairs yourself. Or, you might decide that you’d be financially better off coughing up for 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.

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

Because if you don’t – you won’t be playing by the rules. Most providers will have set out in their terms and conditions that you need to tell them about an accident and if you don’t, you could invalidate your policy.

Your insurance provider is also better placed if they know about an incident, personal injury claims can be made against you years after an accident so notifying your provider means they can be prepared. It also means that your insurance providers won’t compensate a third party without your knowledge.


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, it’s all too easy to forget when you’re recollecting what happened.

You’ll probably be asked to complete a claim form detailing the accident. If you’ve got any photos, these are good to include – it’ll back up your statement and show first-hand any damage.

You may be asked to have your car repaired in an approved garage so it’s important to wait until you’ve spoken to your provider. 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, make this explicit, in this instance it’s worth reinforcing this message in writing. Send them a letter or email making it clear that the details you’re providing are for information only.

Most insurance providers will expect to be told of an incident within a ‘reasonable’ time. What’s deemed reasonable will be written in your terms and conditions, it varies between insurance provider, it could be two days or two weeks – so double check. Failing to notify them in good time could invalidate any claim you try and make.

What information will my insurance provider need from me?

If your car has been stolen or vandalised, you’ll need a crime reference number from the police, any photos you have of the vandalism caused will also be helpful.

If you’ve been involved in an accident, then you need to exchange details at the scene of the incident. Make sure you take note of the car registrations, names, phone numbers and insurance details of all the drivers involved. If a driver of a car isn’t the registered keeper, then make sure you have the information for who is. Your insurance provider will ask you for these details when you come to claim.

Your insurance provider might also ask you questions about the environment surrounding the accident such as when and where it happened, what time of day it was, what the weather was like, lighting or even roadworks.

car insurance

Will making a claim affect the cost of my insurance?

It can! Even if the fault doesn’t lie with you, if you make a claim and your insurance provider can’t recoup all the costs from the other driver, your premium is likely to rise as a result of the claim.

And even if you don’t make a claim you could see costs increase – why? It’s because some insurance providers have statistical evidence to show that those who had an incident (even one that wasn’t their fault and didn’t claim for), were more likely to be involved in another accident later on.

What about my no claims discount (NCD)?

If you’ve protected your NCD, then making a claim shouldn’t affect it (if you haven’t, it will). But that doesn’t mean your insurance premium won’t increase.

As contrary as that sounds – it’s because your insurance premium is calculated first. So if you’ve had an accident (your fault or not) then the basic cost of your premium is likely to go up. Your NCD is applied after that premium is calculated so while the discount remains the same the actual cost of your premium’s risen – meaning an overall increase.

Making sure you’re insured

If you drive a car, you’ll need car insurance and at comparethemarket.com, we’ve made it our business to help you find the perfect deal for you. So there’s no need to trawl the internet and open a million new windows to find ‘the one’. Just answer a few simple questions and we’ll take it from there – so let’s start comparing.

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