File Auto Insurance Claims in Illinois: Ways to Speed Up Your Claim Processing


by Eduward Sneineh


Having a car accident can be a traumatic experience. The last thing you want to happen to you is to extend this trauma to the period of time when you start processing and manging your claim. What is it that you need to do to make filing the claim normal:

1. Read and understand your policy. Reading your policy will allow you to get many of your questions answered in the correct manner. It will also make you ready ahead of time for things that can potentially happen to your claim. Like someone put it before 'reading and understanding the policy is half way in getting your claim paid in timely manner.'

2. Report the accident to your insurance company. If you have an independent agent make sure you also report it to your agent and company. Failure to report the accident in timely manner may lead to delay in processing your claim.

3. If you have physical damage claim, make sure to communicate with the claim department of your company in an official manner. Make sure to document your calls with time and date and name of the person you talked to. Faxes and email can be little more effective than mere verbal communications because you have the proof with date and time that you responded to the company's inquiries.

4. Your company is required by law to communicate with you within specific time frame (21 days after you report the claim). However, you need to pay attention to the details that your company wants you to do. Under policy terms, you are required to submit certain documents to substantiate your claims. These documents could include sworn statements of loss describing the date, time and circumstance of the loss; purpose of using the vehicle at the time of the crash, police crash report, medical bills, title and bill of sale. Your company also has the right to examine certain documents under oath. Failure to do that in a timely manner may result in denying your claim.

5. Remember the following as you file for your comprehensive and collision claim: Your insurance company may ask you to provide pictures and estimates, and may ask you to go to one of their designated facilities to get more estimates. If your company agrees to repair your vehicle you have the right to repair it at any shop of your choice, but you cannot force the company to accept the charges of your shop, and your shop has to accept the reasonable charges offered by the company. The company can also adjust the claim amount for any unusual high mileage or prior damage on the vehicle. If your vehicle was declared total damage by the company then your company will pay the fair market value, minus the applicable deductible. If there is a loan on the vehicle your company is not obligated to pay the amount of loan.

6. If your vehicle was total damage the company may offer you a cash settlement or a replacement vehicle. The replacement vehicle must be purchased from a registered dealer, with the same year, make & model, same or better options and physical conditions.  Insurance companies are not allowed by law to sell back the vehicle to you, unless the totaled vehicle is 9 years or older; or the damage was hail related. If you accept the cash settlement and later you purchased another vehicle your company may have to pay you the applicable sales taxes and title transfer if the purchase occurs in 30 days of accepting the cash settlement.

In some instances you might be agreeing with what the company is offering you in settlement. Your policy contains provisions about taking the case for  appraisal. In that case you will hire your own appraiser who will communicate with the company's appraiser. If both failed to agree, the case will be sent to an umpire whose decision is final.

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