The claim process explained

After a car accident, confusion, stress and anxiety could mean that you forget to do the important things, like notifying your car insurance provider in good time. If you ever find yourself in this situation, our handy guide should help to streamline and simplify the process. Here’s what to expect.

After a car accident, confusion, stress and anxiety could mean that you forget to do the important things, like notifying your car insurance provider in good time. If you ever find yourself in this situation, our handy guide should help to streamline and simplify the process. Here’s what to expect.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 6 NOVEMBER 2019

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

No, you don’t have to make a claim on your car insurance if you’ve had an accident. 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, even if you were not at fault. If you don’t inform them, you could invalidate your policy.

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? 

Yes, and this time limit will usually be clearly stated in your car insurance policy documents. Some insurance providers expect to be told within two days following the incident, 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 compulsory and voluntary 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?

You should call your insurance provider directly to notify them about an accident (some insurance providers have dedicated claim lines). Make a note of what you want to say, so that you don’t forget to tell them any important details. 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. Having 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 your 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 purposes only.

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

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 that of any witnesses, and the insurance details of the other driver/s involved. Don’t forget to get all of these details at the scene of the incident.  

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 in the area. 

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.

Will making a claim affect the cost of my insurance?

Making a claim will probably lead to an increase in the cost of your car 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.

You could also see an increase in your insurance even if you don’t make a claim. 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 in the future.

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 almost certainly affect your NCD years.

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

There are many things that you can do that could help you to get cheaper car insurance. The most promising way to do so would be to compare car insurance quotes from a number of insurance providers. At Compare the Market, we’ve made it our business to help you find a great deal on your car insurance. Just answer a few simple questions and we’ll show you a range of options that you can review to suit your needs.

Looking for a quote?

Compare quotes with us today and see if you can start saving.

Get a quote
Compare car insurance Get a quote