How to report a crash and start an insurance claim

A guide on how to report a crash and file a claim with your car insurance company

If you were involved in a crash, you should always file a car insurance claim—even if it wasn’t your fault, or you were a passenger, pedestrian, or cyclist.

There are many good reasons to open an insurance claim: you pay, so you should access the benefits when needed.  Your insurance company will handle the communication with the adverse driver’s insurer. You want to go on the record, in case, down the road unexpected issues arise.

Finally, there may be a claims time limit—it’s best to report as soon as possible to protect yourself.

The official report

If the police did not come to the scene of the crash, and you have not spoken to an officer, the first thing you need to do is file a police report.

File a collision report in Washington State

In Oregon, contact the local police. Additionally, you must file a report with the DMV within 72 hours of the crash, even if there is a police report.

File a collision report with Oregon DMV

Gather your information

Gather as much of the following information as you can.

  • Your insurance card.
  • The exact address or location of the crash.
  • Name and badge number of all responding police officers.
  • Name and phone number of any witnesses, if known.
  • Name and insurance information for anyone else involved in the incident.
  • Photographs of any damaged cars and the area where the crash occurred.

Contact your insurance company

These are the individual insurance claim pages for the major insurers in Washington State. Many have options to file a claim online, all will have an 800 number.

American Family Insurance
Farmers Insurance
The Hartford
Liberty Mutual 
Mutual of Enumclaw
State Farm

Talking to your insurance adjuster  

After you file an insurance claim, you will be contacted by a company representative, known as an insurance adjuster.

Make a list, and get the following information from your car insurance company:

  • Adjuster’s Name:
  • Adjuster Contact Information:
  • Claim #:

There may be a separate adjuster for Personal Injury Protection (PIP). If so, note:

  • PIP Adjuster’s Name:
  • PIP Adjuster’s Contact Information:
  • PIP Claim #:

Not sure if you have PIP? How to quickly read your car insurance policy after a crash 

You may want to talk with an attorney prior to giving a statement to the insurance adjuster.

Your rights and responsibilities

Your insurance company is required to give you a clear and timely explanation of their coverage decision.

They have to answer your questions. They have to pay medical and property damage bills as dictated by your policy.

You have the right to choose where and how your vehicle is repaired.

You have to keep in contact with the insurance claim adjuster, and provide them with the requested information.

But you do NOT have to talk to the other driver’s insurance company adjusters. 

Next: How to deal with car insurance companies after a crash

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This information is not intended to provide legal advice or legal opinions; it is general information and may not apply to claims outside of Washington, Oregon, or to your claim.

Questions? Contact Coluccio Law for a free consultation.

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