Throughout your life, you may have to file several different types of insurance claims. You will find that the basic process of filing the claim is similar across most lines of insurance, but that the details vary widely. It is important to understand the ways that common types of insurance claims are similar to, and different from, one another so you can be prepared when you must file a claim of these types.
Auto Physical Damage
When your vehicle is damaged after an accident, call your insurance company and report the loss. You must answer several questions about the details of the accident, and wait for the inspector to come to inspect your car. Once he determines whether your vehicle is repairable or a total loss, he will write you a check for the damages or begin the total loss process, including towing the wrecked vehicle away.
If you or someone else is injured, whether in an auto accident or otherwise, you must report it to your insurer and answer questions about the loss. The injured person must typically submit medical reports to the insurer, and sometimes give personal interviews to an adjuster. Injury claims are typically settled in a single lump sum, so settlements can take a long time to come since all medical treatment must be finalized first.
Like auto physical damage claims, your insurer must inspect your damaged home or belongings before you receive a settlement check. Most homeowner's property claims are settled as actual cash value, at least at first. The insurer depreciates your damaged items according to their age and condition at the time of loss. If you have a replacement cost endorsement, submit receipts for your replaced items to your insurer and it will give you supplemental checks for the balance above what you had already received.
Health Insurance Claims
Health insurance claims are often submitted directly to the insurer by the medical provider, so these are among the only claims you don't have to file yourself. Health insurance contracts vary widely between companies and states, but the basic principle is that the insurer pays for medical charges according to your insurance contract, then the provider bills you for the balance. You are responsible for all charges your insurer does not cover.
Life Insurance Claims
Unless you have an endorsement that provides some of the life insurance benefit prior to death, you will always file a life insurance claim for someone else. Therefore, you need the deceased person's policy information, as well as proof of death and, often, details about the cause of death. The insurer will often provide the death benefit by placing the money in a trust account, and providing you with a check book or debit card with which to draw the funds, though other options are available.
Commercial claims are often for large dollar amounts and involve many people. The insurer will always investigate the circumstances of the claim before offering a settlement, and you must cooperate with these investigations while also managing your business after a loss. Your insurance agent can help you through this process. Report the loss immediately, so you and the insurer can mitigate the loss and gain as much control as possible over the circumstances.
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