your loss covered?
If you are unsure if your policy covers a specific loss,
check your policy or contact your agent. If the loss is not covered
under your policy, you do not have a claim. If the loss is covered,
find out if the loss exceeds the amount of your deductible?
What is your deductible?
The deductible is the amount of money you agree to
pay before the insurance company will begin paying on a claim.
If you are unsure about the amount of your deductible, check your
policy or contact your insurance agent.
How much damage or loss do you
If you have had damage to your property or possessions,
how much would it cost to fix the damage or replace the item.
If you're unsure, make a list of missing or damaged items and
make a written description of the damage to your car. This information
will assist the insurance adjuster when it is time to review your
You may need to hire a qualified professional to give you an
estimate on the damage. You may need to do some shopping to find
the best price to replace personal possessions. In any case, you
will want to determine an estimate of the amount it cost to to
return your home or vehicle to the condition it was in prior to
the loss and replace items lost or damaged. This amount would
be your estimated claim amount.
Is my vehicle a total loss?
Under the terms of your Auto Insurance policy, your insurer will
decide whether to pay for repairing your vehicle or to declare
it a "total loss". If your vehicle is declared a total
loss, your insurer will pay you what is known as actual cash value
(ACV). The ACV is the market value of your vehicle.
Most standard auto policies will not pay to repair a vehicle
if the repairs cost more than the cash value assigned to the vehicle
or if the vehicle cannot be repaired to a safe condition.
Insurance companies use a number of tools to help determine the
market value of vehicles including guidebooks, online vehicle
ads and dealership quotes. Depending on any special features,
parts and mileage, your insurer could adjust the settlement amount.
For you to get a settlement higher than the book value of your
car's make and model, you will need to submit evidence such as
mileage records, service history and affidavits from mechanics
to show that your car was worth more before the loss than the
average market value for your vehicle. You are entitled to the
market price of the car you just lost.
Does the estimated amount exceed
If the amount of your estimated claim is the same or
less than the amount of your deductible, you do not have a claim.
Although the insurance company will not pay you for your loss,
your agent may be helpful in directing you to qualified repair
professionals or companies with reasonable prices.
If the amount of your estimated claim is more than the amount
of your deductible, you may have a claim. There is one more aspect
you should consider before you make that claim: is the amount
above the deductible sufficient to make a claim worthwhile?
If the estimated claim is $550 and your deductible is $500, you
may want to pay the extra $50 and not submit the claim. The reason
for this is that insurance is intended to cover major expenses.
An insurance company will consider a $50 claim the same as a $5,000
If you have multiple claims over a period of two or three years,
you may find the amount of your deductible must be increased to
accommodate your change in risk classification. Depending on its
underwriting guidelines, an insurance company may elect not to
renew your policy if you have had too many claims during a certain
time period. None of us can afford to pay out more than we take
My estimated claim exceeds my
deductible, I need to make a claim. What do I do now?
Report the damage to your insurance agent or insurance
company. The claim process will begin in one of two ways. Your
insurance company may send you a claim form to complete or make
an appointment for you to visit with an adjuster. An adjuster
is a person professionally trained to assess damage. In either
case, the more information you have regarding damage and/or missing
or damaged property, the faster your claim can be settled.
I filed my claim. What do I do
After you have filed your claim forms and the insurance
adjuster has made an inspection of the damage, the insurance company
will usually respond to you in writing within a week. The insurance
company may ask for additional time in accepting or rejecting
the claim, they may ask for additional information, or they may
offer you a settlement. Once you and the insurance company agree
on the terms of the settlement, a payment will be sent promptly.
If you have questions regarding your coverage, making
or settling a claim, call your insurance agent or company.
This information is provided by the members of the NW Insurance
Council, a nonprofit organization established in 1968 to educate
the public about relevant insurance issues.