What to do After a Car Accident? A Guide to Filing a Vehicle Insurance Claim


A Guide to Filing a Vehicle Insurance claim

Accidents in India: As per the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, every year, approximately 1.5 lakh people die on Indian roads, with an average of 47 accidents and 18 deaths every hour. There could be many reasons for road accidents, such as high speed, improper roads, drunk driving, etc. In all these cases, there would be property damage and bodily injury. Besides accidental deaths, many accidents occur on Indian roads, which do not lead to deaths but result in property damages. One should have at least a Third party insurance policy while driving on any Indian road per the Motor vehicles act. Accidents resulting in third-party property damage are covered under the TP section of the vehicle insurance policy.

The major question during an accident is how to proceed with the settlement. In India, settling minor accidents resulting in bodily injury or property damage is common by paying a certain amount. But having a comprehensive vehicle insurance policy could save you money and time by absorbing your legal liability. One should not panic and run away from the accident spot, thinking they could escape the law. It is better to assess the situation and behave accordingly. If you feel a threat to your life, it is better to drive to a nearby police station, surrender there, and describe the incident instead of feeling the location.

Here is a guide to understanding the claim process to be followed for cashless as well as reimbursement in case of an accident from your insured vehicle:

Steps to File a Cashless Claim

Step 1: Check for Third Party Injuries: The first thing to do after an accident is to check for third-party casualties and property damage. If you hit a third party or a vehicle, then ensure the third party has not suffered any injury. If a third party is injured, it is necessary to note down their contact details. This would be very important during motor claim settlement, as TP claims can arise in the future, leading to an increased claim ratio. If you had hit a tree or divider instead of a third-party vehicle or person, there would be no need for third-party contact details, as no third-party claim could occur.

Step 2: Collect Opposite Party Insurance Details: In certain cases, it would be advisable to collect the insurance details of a third party to submit to your insurance company if needed. You could also share your insurance details with the other party in case they would utilize it to make a claim. In general, insurance companies would go for a knock-knock agreement in which they would not look into the other party’s mistake. Each insurance company would settle their client’s claim and close the case instead of suing the other company for their insured’s negligence or mistake.

Step 3: Call Customer Care: Insurance companies would ask for the accident details such as the place of the accident, driver details at the time of the accident, description of the events leading to the accident, driver license details and third-party injury or property damage etc. It is important to mention all the details clearly, which should be true as the claim would be processed based on these details only. Customer care would be asking for any third-party claims that can arise from the accident and it is important to mention any injuries or property damages from the accident. Customer care would provide a claim reference number to be noted and used for all future communications with the insurance company until the claim is settled.

Step 4: Request for Towing or Inspection: The next step is to request a towing facility from the insurance company if available. The insurance company will arrange for the towing facility if roadside assistance is taken. The car can be towed to the nearest cashless garage, and the insurance company would bear the cost of towing up to a certain limit. If the towing is not possible, the inspection would be carried out at the spot of the accident in most cases. You can also arrange a towing vehicle to tow your vehicle to the nearest cashless garage. Starting or running the car on your own to a nearby garage is not advisable as it might increase the damage in certain cases. Once the towing is done, the next step is to request that the surveyor be deputed to inspect the damaged vehicle. A surveyor is usually assigned within 24 hours to carry out the inspection.

Step 5: Fill the Claim Form: The next step is to fill out the claim form with the details of the accident, such as the time and date of the accident, insurance policy details, driver details including driving license, KYC documents, a brief description of the accident, etc. All these details must be filled with utmost good faith as they would form the basis for the claim settlement. Filling in the claim reference number immediately after reporting the claim is also advisable. The claim form should be duly signed and submitted to the workshop with a cashless facility. Once the claim form is filled, a surveyor will be assigned to inspect and assess the damages.

Step 6: Inspection Report: Surveyor would assess the damages and prepare a detailed report to be submitted to the insurance company. The surveyor would also verify the accident details and investigate to check for the claim’s authenticity. Once the surveyor completes the inspection, a report will be submitted to the insured detailing the claim to be paid or the loss estimate. The insured should accept the estimate for the cashless claim to be processed. The estimate can also be challenged later in the courts if the insured feels the claim amount is unreasonable. The inspection report contains the estimate, which is the cost that would incur to repair the vehicle.

Step 7: Accept the Report and Submit KYC: Once the report is ready, you can accept it and submit it to the insurance company to process the claim. Workshop employees will undertake the necessary repairs once the estimate is ready. Submitting your KYC details for the claim to be processed is also necessary. Please note that the insurance policy should be valid for any of the claims to be acceptable. If the policy is lapsed, then no claim would be accepted under the policy. Hence, it is imperative to ensure that your motor insurance policy is always live.

Step 8: Cashless Claim Settled: After the repairs, the garage will notify the insurance company to process the claim. The insurance company would then settle the claim directly with the garage, and the insured can take their vehicle from the garage. Apart from the claim amount, there might be certain charges, such as handling charges, etc., which are not covered by the policy but must be borne by the insured from their pockets. Once the claim is settled, the no-claim bonus under the vehicle insurance policy becomes 0%, and there would be no NCB at the time of renewal.

Steps to File a Reimbursement Claim

Step 1: Check for Third Party Injuries: First thing you should do following an accident is examine for injuries to third party victims or the damage to property. If you’ve hit a 3rd driver or another vehicle make sure that the other party does not suffer any injuries. If someone else is injured, it’s important to record the details of their contact. This is vital in the course of settlement for claims, since TP claims could occur at any time, which can increase the number of claims. If you’d hit the divider or tree instead of a car or the person who was at fault, there’s no need to provide third-party information, since there is no possibility of a third-party claim.

Step 2: Click Photos/Videos of the Damages: In some instances it is recommended to take a photo or record videos of damage. Certain insurance providers offer the possibility of a quick settlement of claims if the value is lower than a specific amount. In these cases, you could benefit from this service and have the car repaired at the nearest garage. If you can take photographs or videos of the vehicle, instead of waiting for a surveyor to arrive, the claim can be resolved more quickly. Today, insurance companies employ AI for taking photographs or video of damaged parts and therefore evaluate the claims on their own, thus reducing the need for surveyors.

Step 3: Call Customer Care: Insurance companies may request specific details about the incident, such as the location of the accident and the driver’s details during the time of the incident and a description of the circumstances which led to the collision as well as driving license and other details, any third party injuries or damages, etc. It is essential to provide every detail clearly, and all the details must be accurate as claims are processed on the basis of the information provided. Customer care will be asking whether there are any claims by third parties due to the accident. It’s essential to record the injuries and property damage resulted from the incident. Customer service will provide an insurance claim reference number, which must be recorded and utilized for any future communication with the insurance company until the claim has been paid.

Step 4: Request for Towing: Next step would be to ask for a towing facility by the insurance company, in the event that it is available. If roadside assistance is requested, then the insurance provider will provide the towing service. The vehicle can be towed by a garage nearby and the towing cost will be covered through the insurer to a specific maximum. If towing isn’t feasible, then an inspection will take place on the scene where the accident occurred in a majority of situations. Also, you can request a towing service for towing your car to the closest garage. It’s not recommended to begin or drive the vehicle at your own expense in a garage nearby as it could cause more damages in some instances. After towing has been completed and the vehicle is towed, the next step would be to contact an expert surveyor to inspect the vehicle that has been damaged. The surveyor will usually be assigned within a matter of 24 hours to conduct the inspection.

Step 5: Fill the Claim Form: The next step is filling the claim form by providing specifics of the incident including the exact time and day of the incident as well as insurance policy information. drivers details such as driving license, KYC documents, brief details of the incident, as well as other details. These details must be filled out with absolute good confidence as they are the basis of the settlement of the claim. It is also recommended that you complete the claim reference number available immediately upon making the claim. This form must be completed and signed prior to sending in the workshops. After the form has been completed, a surveyor should be designated to perform an inspection to assess damage.

Step 6: Inspection Report: Surveyor is expected to assess the extent of damage, and then write an extensive report that will be submitted to the insurance firm. Surveyors will also confirm the details of the incident and conduct an examination to verify any authenticity to the claim. When the surveyor is finished in the process of examination, a report will be provided to the insurer informing them of the claim to be settled or an estimate of the loss. The estimate must be accepted by the insurance so that the claim for reimbursement can be considered. The estimate could also be challenged later on at a later time in courts should the insured feel that the reimbursement amount isn’t appropriate. The inspection report includes the estimation of the expense for repairs to the car.

Step 7: Estimate Acceptance & Submission: If a reimbursement request is made The estimate should not be given to the insurer immediately. It should contain information about each component that needs to be fixed or replaced along with the expense for the replacement or repair.

Step 8: Reimbursement Claim: Estimates should be provided to the insurer along with the necessary documentation, such as car insurance policy, the original repair bills, properly filled out and signed claim form as well as KYC documents for settling the claim. The customer must provide specifics of NEFT or cancelled cheques to settle the claim. It’s essential that bank account information are in line with the insurance policy’s details. The reimbursement request will be processed within 7-15 days following the submission of the final necessary document. The applicant should submit all documents in a timely manner so that there is no delay when it comes to settlement. For further information on the documentation required to complete reimbursement claim settlement, please visit Ethika insurance broking.

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Susheel Agarwal

Namaste. I'm Abhinay Nedunuru, a Fellow of the Insurance Institute of India with a passion to make insurance simple and crisp. I write on insurance and investment. I have a passion for teaching and training in particular to insurance. I'm currently doing my PhD from IIM in Management.