Car Insurance Claim Dispute Process – How Is Fault Decided?

We all know how important it is to have car insurance – if you own a vehicle, it should be insured. But we also all hope to never have to use that insurance. Because using it means we’ve been in an accident – big or small. Which isn’t a pleasant thought.

However, accidents do happen. Sometimes they’re your fault, and sometimes they’re not. And when they happen, it can be overwhelming. Which is why so many people struggle with the process of claiming insurance.

How do you determine who is at fault? How do you send in the claim to your insurance company? And how long will it take before you’re able to drive your car again?

We have all these answers and more, so if you’re wondering about the process of a car insurance claim, read on.

What Is A Claim Dispute?

car back bumper smashed

A claim dispute is when your insurance claim is disputed by either your insurance provider or the third party. Disputes can arise for many reasons, but usually, this happens when the third party driver refuses to admit fault.

Or if the insurance company believes the claim is not valid, for whatever reason.

Determining Who Is At Fault

vehicle insurance after a crash

In any vehicle accident, there is someone at fault. But at times the fault is not entirely clear.

It’s important to note that the fault of a collision can be determined in a number of ways. Before admitting fault or even accusing the other driver, document the accident scene. For the most part, it will be the police who decide the person at fault.

Factors Of Fault In A Car Accident

  • Drunk driving
  • Speed
  • Negligence
  • Failing to keep the vehicle under control
  • Lack of awareness

The above factors will usually mean that the driver found to be guilty of any of them is at fault. Some accidents, like rear-ending, are not as clear-cut and need to be assessed according to the circumstances.

Usual Car Insurance Claims Process

collision aftermath

As you step out of your car and assess the damage of a fender bender, you probably have many things flooding through your mind. One of these is most likely going to be “How do I get this fixed ASAP?!”.

This is something your insurance company can probably help with – or the insurance company of the other driver, depending on who is at fault. So here’s a standard car insurance claim process.

  1. Report the accident to the police – this needs to be done within 24 hours. Depending on how bad the damage is, you may need to call the police to the scene. If you don’t need them right away, make a stop at the police station as soon as possible. If you are in a claim dispute – and the driver at fault is not clear, then you may have to wait for the police to determine fault before you start your claim.
  2. Get the other driver’s information – if the accident was caused by another driver, you need to get their info. Name, ID number, and contact details will be needed by the insurance company. If you’re unable to get this info, such as in a hit and run, then make sure you report that to the police.
  3. Phone your insurance provider or fill out the forms online – this will depend on the company and their options.
  4. Hand over all the necessary information and documents – you’ll need to send things like your police statements, any photos, and other papers that your insurance company will ask for.

Once you’ve completed the process, your claim will go through the necessary departments, and your insurance company should keep you updated along the way. If any issues arise, they’ll let you know. If everything is found to be accurate, you’ll have your claim paid out and will be on your way to a fixed vehicle in no time.

Read More: What to do if someone hits your parked car.

More Important Car Insurance Claim FAQs

Here are a few more commonly asked questions and answers.

two cars involved in a collision

How Many Car Insurance Claims Go To Court?

The chances of your car insurance claim going to court are usually not very high. Very few claims need to go to court.

More often than not, your insurance claim will be settled outside of court. However, if you, the third party, and the insurance company can’t come to an agreement, it will have to go to court.

Can A Car Insurance Company Refuse To Pay A Claim?

The short answer is yes.

But there are reasons that your provider may reject your claim. Some things that will ensure a smooth claims process include:

  • You are truthful
  • You are a licensed driver
  • Your car is licensed and roadworthy
  • Your premiums are up to date

How Long Does A Car Insurance Claim Take To Settle?

This will depend on how straight-forward your claim is. And sometimes it will be determined by how fast your insurance company works.

If everything goes smoothly, you could have your claim settled within a matter of weeks. If there are disputes by either party, you’ll likely wait a few months.

Do You Have To Pay Excess If The Accident Is Not Your Fault?

Sometimes, you’ll still need to pay excess to your insurance company even if the accident was not your fault. However, there are times when this can be claimed from the guilty party by a legal team.

Car Insurance Claims Summary

crashed vehicle being towed away

Vehicle insurance claims can seem like a complicated process, but as long as you’re prepared before you take your claim to your insurance provider, it should be smooth sailing.

Just remember, if you’re ever in an accident: don’t admit fault, document as much of the scene as you can, and contact the police as soon as you’re able. This will all help make the claim process that much easier.

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