Blog Understanding The Car Insurance Claims Process

Feb 22, 2021

What You Need To Know About Car Insurance Claims

insurance claim form on a ipad

It may not be what you want to deal with, but filing an insurance claim is an important decision. Unexpected situations happen all the time. Maybe you were in a fender bender. You woke up to find your vehicle had been vandalized. Or maybe you have a cracked windshield or weather related damage. Even dents and parking lot accidents will have you questioning if you should file a report.

Learn how the automobile claims process works in Ontario and if they can affect your car insurance quote.

When Should I File A Car Insurance Claim?

There are a number of situations where filing a claim is highly recommended :

  • You cause major damage to yours or another person’s vehicle
  • An injury happens as a result of an accident
  • You suspect insurance fraud. Something is not right about the situation with the other driver.

Your claim will generally fall under one of three categories. They are third party liability, collision insurance and comprehensive insurance.

When Not To File A Claim

Making a claim is an important decision. It can affect your record, car insurance quotes, and impact you financially. Starting a claim should be a priority if your vehicle has major damage. But, it’s a minor car accident or smaller damage when you should think twice.

Here are some situations where you may not want to file :

  • The damage may only be slightly more than your car insurance deductible
  • You have the funds to pay for the damage
  • You only cause minor damage
  • You caused the damage yourself. For example, you backed into a tree on your driveway

In each of these situations, it may not make sense financially to file a claim because it could go on your record. An increase in rates could cost you more money long term than paying for the repairs yourself.

What Is The Auto Insurance Claims Process?

Here is a look at the steps an how the process works :

  1. Report the auto accident (if applicable to your situation)
  2. Contact your insurer
  3. Provide them with details about the incident
  4. Answer questions from your adjuster
  5. Get an estimate for the vehicle damage and repairs
  6. Choose an auto shop and schedule repairs
  7. Close the claim

When you file a claim, you will be assigned an adjuster. Your adjuster will be your go to contact person assist you during the process. Once it is reviewed, your adjuster will explain your coverage. Your insurer will pay to have your vehicle repaired. This cost is subject to a deductible.

Your provider may waive it for not at-fault accident damage. Once your vehicle gets the necessary repairs, your insurer will close the claim and it will go on your record.

How Long Does It Take To File A Car Insurance Claim?

insurance claims adjuster looking at a damaged car

Filing a car insurance claim can be a fairly quick process. Many insurers have a guarantee to get your claim started within 30 minutes or 1 hour. The initial call with your adjuster can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the incident.

How long it takes to settle is a different story. Some can be rectified very quickly – in a matter of weeks. Others take longer to close. How long it takes to settle depends on the claim's type and details.

When submitting a claim, the time limit in Ontario is not a hard deadline. It’s recommended you file it as soon as possible, within seven days is ideal. Failing to report within a reasonable time frame could be denied.

Why Could My Insurance Deny My Claim?

There are a number of reasons your claim could be investigated. Your insurer may suspect fraud, believe you have provided false information or investigating the degree of fault among parties involved.

There are situations where your insurer refuses to pay your claim. The most common situations include :

  • Your provided misleading claims information
  • There was an unauthorized driver behind the wheel
  • You were using your personal vehicle for business purposes
  • You broke the law
  • You are behind in your payments
  • You don’t have the proper insurance in place

How Much Does A Claim Affect Car Insurance Rates?

You may or may not see an increase on your premium. If it’s your first claim or you are not at-fault, your rates will not likely increase. In other situations an increase in premiums will depend on many factors. They include the amount of damage, claim type, and fault determined on a case by case basis.

Auto Insurance Claim FAQs

The details of the claim and your policy features will determine if there is an increase. If you are not at-fault and have accident forgiveness, your premium will not increase.

Yes. Insurers will generally allow you to cancel an open claim. However, your ability to cancel will depend on how far you are along in the process. As long as you haven’t already been compensated, you should be able to cancel. If you’ve already started a claim, it will stay on your driving record, even if you withdraw.

A total loss insurance claim works similarly to any other car accident claim. Report the accident to your insurer, have the damage assessed, and if the vehicle is deemed a total loss, you will receive a cash settlement for the value of the vehicle.

It depends on the cost of the claim. It may or may not be worth it. For example, if the repair cost is $1,200 and you have a $1,000 deductible, the insurer would only actually cover $200. You are likely better off paying out of pocket to avoid it going on your record.

It’s important to keep the number of claims on your record to a minimum. You can file a claim multiple times per year, but it could affect rates. Insurers could also choose not to renew your policy.