In the moments after an auto accident there are a million things that will run through your head. Checking yourself and other passengers for injuries is probably the first thing you do followed by visually assessing the damage to your vehicle. Your next steps may make the insurance claims process a bit easier, so learning these steps prior to an accident may trigger your memory should you find yourself involved in an auto accident in Skagit County.
5 tips for filing an insurance claim in Washington:
- Call 911: Always alert law enforcement to an auto accident whether it is single or multiple vehicles, on private property, etc. The 911-dispatcher will ask a series of questions to determine if an officer is needed, usually if there is significant vehicle or property damage, there is an injury or if impairment is suspected. If an officer is not needed at the scene, make sure to file a police report at your local precinct as your insurance company may need a police report in order to process certain claims. This process also works for claims such as theft, vandalism or hit-and-run damage to your vehicle.
- Gather information: You will need to collect information from any parties involved in the auto accident or information from someone whose property may have been damage by your vehicle (and vice versa). Make sure to get a phone number, address, auto insurance company and policy number, a description of the vehicle (make, model, and year) and a description of the damage done to the vehicle. If you have a smartphone or camera handy take photos of all vehicles, buildings and surrounding areas. Make sure to photograph vehicle positions, street signs and anything else that may be useful in the claims process.
- Talk to your agent: Alert your agent to the fact that you have been in an auto accident and let them know the details. If it is a smaller, solo accident without significant damage to your vehicle, it may be cheaper in the long run to avoid an insurance claim and pay for the damage out of pocket. Your agent can guide you through your options and help you make the best decision for your situation. Your agent may also be an advocate for you when dealing with the insurance company of any party that was involved in an accident with you.
- File a claim: If you and your agent have determined that filing a claim is the best option for you, then your agent can assist you in that process. Provide your agent with the information of anyone else involved in the auto accident, any photos or videos that were taken at the scene and if there is one, the police report. Your agent will start the claims process and send out a claims adjuster to assess the damage to your vehicle and let you know how much the damage will cost to repair. This does not necessarily reflect the amount you will pay, that depends on who is found “at-fault” for the accident.
- The waiting game: The claims process can take a bit of time, especially if there are multiple parties and multiple insurance companies involved. Check in with your agent and feel free to ask any questions you may have about the process.
We always hope that none of our clients will experience the stress of an auto accident, but we know that it happens (that’s why we’re here!) The local, independent agents at Wycoff Insurance Agency in Mount Vernon, WA can assist you in filing a claim and finding a reputable repair shop. They are right in your backyard, so they know the most trusted repair shops in the Skagit County area. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle. You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about auto insurance or the other insurance products they offer like Classic Car or RV insurance.