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How to make a car insurance claim

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Millions of drivers make car insurance claims every year.

That does not necessarily make it a simple process, though, especially for motorists who have never made a claim before.

It is worth getting the details right, as they will determine whether and how much your insurance company is prepared to pay out.

To help ensure your claim is successful, check out our step-by-step guide now.

Step 1 Take notes
You should try to note down everything that happened in the accident such as where the accident took place and why while the events are still fresh in your mind.

If possible, it's sensible to take a photo of the incident scene, which could be the place your car was last seen if it has been stolen, too.

Finally, if the reason for your claim is a criminal offence, such as theft or vandalism, you should also contact the police before touching anything and ask for a police incident number.

You will need this to register your claim with your insurer.

Step 2 - Inform your insurer
Once you have contacted the police and prepared your notes, get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible.

You should find that having the notes to hand when you call enables you to give a fuller and more accurate account of what happened.

This is important for two reasons. Firstly, it should help to speed up the claims process, meaning that you get paid more quickly.
Secondly, it will help you to avoid changing your story later, which could result in the insurer doubting the validity of your claim.

Step 3 - Be organised
Keep a record of all your dealings with the insurer as well as the police and any garages or other parties related to the claim.

This means keeping hold of any letters and other documents you send or receive as well as keeping a record of all related phone calls.

To help you with this, take advantage of the fact that many insurers can provide you with both a reference number for each individual telephone conversation, and the name of the person who took the call.

Step 4 - Be patient
Some insurers will only agree to pay for repairs carried out by approved garages.

Consequently, it is a good idea to wait for it to contact you with the details before rushing off to have your car fixed yourself.

Otherwise, you could end up paying for the repairs out of your own pocket.

Step 5 - Know your rights
In accordance with the terms and conditions of their policies, insurers are entitled to refuse to pay out in certain situations.

However, if your claim is rejected, or the insurer only agrees to pay out a sum that you feel is unsatisfactory, you can choose to appeal against the decision

To do so, your first step should be to contact your insurer to see if it will revisit your claim with a view to reviewing its decision.

Even though it is unlikely to change its mind unless you can bring new evidence to the table, for example, this is still a necessary step on the way to taking your complaint further.

This is because you must give an insurer at least eight weeks to respond to your complaint before you can decide to escalate it to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Should it decide in your favour, it has the power to order the insurer in question to increase your payout or offer you compensation.

This article has been researched and written by whatcar.com's car insurance partner, MoneySupermarket