What details do I need to take for a claim?
If your claim follows a road accident make sure you collect all the details you need from the other driver. Jot down the following...
- Vehicle registration
- Telephone number
- Insurance details
When should I call my car insurer?
You'll need to give your car insurance company as much information about the accident as soon as possible.
Make sure you have all the information you'll need to make a claim to hand before you call. Having notified the provider you'll get a claim form to complete and return. Alternatively, you may be able to submit your form online.
Remember, that if you have an accident your insurer will expect to be notified - whether you intend to claim or not.
Do I have to contact my insurer?
The bottom line is car insurers expect to be notified of any incident that could potentially lead to a claim - even if you don't plan to make one.
Refraining from doing so could risk putting you in breach of your policy's terms and conditions.
This is primarily because even if you don't lodge a claim, an affected third party might - so your insurer wants to have as much information as possible about the incident.
They will also take into account incidents - as well as claims - in your recent past when calculating your risk - especially if the incident is serious.
Damage to your car may have affected its safety, security or value.
Is it worth making a car insurance claim?
Faced with several thousand pounds worth of damage or theft, the case for making a claim on your insurance is pretty clear cut.
When it comes to costs of lower value, however - where it wouldn't break the bank to fund repairs or replacements yourself - you might decide making a claim isn't worth it. Here are the factors to bear in mind when weighing up whether or not to make a claim:
What effect does a car insurance claim have on premiums?
A major cause for hesitation can be the potential impact on your premiums: recent claims or incidents affect the insurer's view of your level of risk, and so they may adjust your price accordingly.
Unfortunately, you can't know in advance what your next renewal premium will be.
Generally speaking, though, minor, isolated incidents like a chip in the windscreen are less likely to lead to painful increases than something more serious or complex - like a collision with another driver.
Whether you choose to claim or not, be alert at renewal time. If your premium has soared, consider switching to a new provider or haggle with your current one for a better deal.
Find out more: Renewing your car insurance - tips for getting the best deal.
What is an excess?
Excesses help keep your premium low, marking a threshold of what you're happy - or required - to pay yourself in the event of a claim.
Therefore the nearer the claim amount is to your excess, the more negligible the benefit is in claiming.
What impact will a claim have on my no-claims discount?
Check how much a claim will affect your no-claims bonus.
This won't give you the entire picture - you'll know from it how much discount you stand to lose if you claim, but not the underlying premium to which that discount is applied, which may change regardless.
However, it's still useful because if your claim triggers a big reduction in discount, you can know to expect a sizeable increase in premium - and it may take two or three years to recover the no-claims bonus you had.
How do I complain about my car insurance claim?
When making a claim, your expectation is that your provider will handle your enquiries carefully and pay out according to the terms of your policy.
However, this isn't always the case. If you feel that your claim hasn't been handled fairly - if it's rejected, for example, or the valuation you have received is less than you expected - complain to your insurer in the first instance.
Speak to the ombudsman
If you have exhausted the insurance company's complaints procedure (set out in your insurance policy) and your claim has not been settled, email the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) at financial-ombudsman.org.uk or call 0300 123 9123.
You usually have six months from the time you reach deadlock with the insurer in which to make a complaint. The decision of the FOS is binding on companies but not on the consumer - so you could, if you wish, refer the matter to court.
Who are the best car insurers for claims?
The acid test of any car insurer is how it handles your claim. In January 2019, Which? surveyed 2,111 members of the general public about their experiences using a major car insurance provider. Their ratings are shown in the table below.
We also rate insurers on value for money, complaints handling and transparency of fees as part of our customer satisfaction ratings. To see these results, plus our assessment of each policy, visit our car insurance review pages.
The table below highlights the car insurance claims satisfaction scores for the leading car insurance brands.
Table notes: Insurers must be rated by at least 30 respondents to be included in our table. Sample sizes (in brackets) show the number of respondents answering our claims customer score questions. For some of the star ratings, too few answered the specific question for a valid rating to be generated. '-' is shown where this is the case.
What about uninsured losses?
Uninsured losses are items which aren't covered by your insurance policy and often occur after a road accident. They could include things like:
- the excess you have to pay for repairs
- the cost of alternative transport while your is off the road
- compensation for personal injury
- loss of earnings
- loss in value of your car
You should start by writing to the other driver giving details of your uninsured losses, and asking them to pass your claim on to their insurer. If the driver refuses to co-operate, then you'll have to take the matter to court.
Claims for £10,000 or less in England or Wales or £3,000 or less in Scotland or Northern Ireland, can be taken to small claims court.
It's worthwhile checking your car insurance policy though, as most policies have Motor Legal Protection, which is a form of legal expenses insurance and will assist in the recovery of your uninsured losses.
If you're claiming for a personal injury as part of the claim then this affects whether the claim can be brought as a small claim.
Always take legal advice where there is a personal injury element to the claim.
Can insurers give vouchers instead of cash payouts?
If your policy states that your insurer uses a 'preferred supplier' then this could mean you'll be issued with vouchers instead of cash when you make a claim. These vouchers have to enable you to replace your item 'like for like'
Where your policy doesn’t say the insurance company can provide vouchers, then you can insist on either a cash payment or replacement items - whichever your policy says the insurer will provide.
Be sure to check with your provider if anything is unclear in your policy wording.