I had a car accident while I was in India last year albeit a minor one. You might be in a similar situation now or in future. So I’m documenting the procedure for how to make a car insurance claim or procedure after accident in India.
In contrast to what happens abroad, the driver of the other was furious and wanted to get into a fight. Thankfully it was near a busy signal and a policeman was available nearby to resolve the issue.
This is in stark contrast to what happens abroad. We just park the car on the side and wait for a policeman to come and issue a report to both parties. We make our claims based on that and that is reason we have car insurance. There is no need to get too emotional if there is no physical injury.
Putting that aside, in a country like India, owning a car is no longer an ‘owner’s pride’ kind of thing. It has become or is becoming a necessity in life. As banks are willing to lend money to help you buy your dream car, more and more people are queuing up for car loans.
But your dream vehicle can meet an unfortunate accident at any point of time. To cover these risks you need to take out a car insurance which is also known as motor insurance or auto insurance.
Car insurance claim or procedure in India
Nobody wants to get involved in a car accident. It not only ruins your entire day, it can cause multiple injuries and even deaths in some serious cases.
There is hardly any driver in India who has never got involved in a car accident throughout his life. It is true you cannot stop accidents from happening but you can be well prepared to meet the financial losses that results from an accident by buying a proper car insurance.
But before you can use that insurance money to recover your loss and back to normal as it was before the accident, there are a few dos and don’ts which should kept in mind in the process of making a car insurance claim after an accident in India.
What you should do after an accident?
In these trying times, you must keep your calm and try to do the following with the best of your abilities.
- You should make an attempt to prevent further accidents by keeping the flashers/emergency lights on. If the lights are not working then you should have a flashlight with you for your own safety while you wait by the side of the road. If possible place a glowing tape hazard triangle 10-20 ft behind your car.
- Even if there are no serious injuries, it is always prudent to call the police. You may need a police report to file a car insurance claim even if you are just claiming for the damage to your vehicle. The vehicles involved in the accident must remain where they are unless they are proving to be a hindrance to the traffic. If so, take pictures from all possible angles before moving vehicle to the side of the road.
- When the police arrive at the scene, make sure you tell the investigating officer exactly what happened. Do not speculate or guess; just tell it to the officer what you really know. Also ensure that the statements given by the other people involved in the accident are accurate as well. Try to make sure your story is heard first by the officer. Also do not admit it is your mistake openly if there is even small doubt. This can be used against you in some cases during your claim procedure.
- If there is visible damage to your car, then you use at least your cell phone camera to take a picture of those damaged areas. If you have visible injuries, photograph them also. But you should never interfere with the police investigation. If you are unable to take pictures at the accident scene, do click pictures as soon as possible before police arrives.
- Typically an investigating officer should take the name, address and telephone number of all the persons involved in the accident but if he fails to do that then it is your duty to take down the details from the people involved in the accident.
- The motor insurance company needs to be notified as soon as possible. There are many policies which require immediate reporting; so you must co-operate fully in this regard. If there are medical benefits in the insurance coverage then you must submit the accident related medical bills to the insurance company. Even better, ask for guidance on how to proceed from your insurance agent/company itself.
- Always maintain a file and keep all documents related to the accident together. The information should include all original bills, the claim number, the details of the adjuster who is handling the claim made by you, the names and contact information of all the persons, receipts of all expenses incurred due to the accident.
- The most important thing to do after having a car accident is to consult your attorney, if you have one. He will be able to protect your rights and ensure that no valuable evidences are destroyed. Since some motor insurance companies ask for a statement immediately after an accident, make sure that you speak to your attorney before making any statement.
What you should not do after an accident?
Here are the few things that you should not do after a car or an auto accident.
- Running away from the scene of the accident – This is very common in India but this is one thing you should never do. Irrespective of the severity of the damages, one should always stop the car and check on the other persons who are involved in the accident. If anyone is found injured then make all efforts to provide medical assistance. This is a kind act and may help you later on.
- Not informing the police – All kinds of accidents need to be reported to the police. This is actually lawful and will help you at the time of insurance claim. The driver of the other car may try to reach a settlement with you and request you not to inform the police; do not fall for it. There is a huge chance that his auto insurance policy is either fake or outdated. The police report that you file will help you in filing an insurance claim.
- Getting unnecessarily aggressive – Many people make the cardinal mistake of losing the temper after an accident. On the contrary, the first thing you should do is to enquire about the condition of the other driver. Take a deep breath and try to analyze the situation. Always be polite but never take the blame on yourself. This would mean that you are accepting the legal liability of the accident.
- Forgetting to document the accident site – After you have called the police, you need to document the wreck. Note down the other driver’s name, address, name of the insurance company and policy number. It is mandatory for every car owner to have a 3rd party insurance; so these little information will help you in getting a financial compensation for the insurance company.
- Ignoring the post accident formalities – It is very important to file an insurance claim in the shortest time possible. Most of the insurance companies in India have a time limit for filing an auto insurance claim.
Filing a claim with the auto insurance company
There are basically 2 types of auto insurance – comprehensive motor insurance and third party motor insurance. The comprehensive car insurance cover any losses that arises due to damage or theft of the vehicle or death of anyone in the car during an accident.
The third party insurance or Act only Risk type covers the damage inflicted by your car on the other vehicle. It does not cover theft, damage to your vehicle during accidents. Always go for the comprehensive car/motor insurance.
When you file a claim with the insurance company, the company will not cover its depreciated value or the general wear and tear of the company. The claim that you will finally receive will be based on the actual repairs to the vehicle subject to the ceiling created by the Insured Declared Value on the policy document.
You will also need to call the insurance company within a set time-frame and you need to check the policy to know what that time-frame is. The insurance company will also have a preferred garage where you need to tow your vehicle to get an estimate of the damage and cost of repairs.
The insurance company will also ask for a set of documents that will include
- Copy of the Insurance Policy
- First Information Report or FIR
- Properly filled up Claim Form
- Vehicle Registration Copy
- Driving License Copy
- Original Estimate of Repairs
- The Medical Receipts
- Original Police Certificate of No-Trace Report (theft cases only)
- Signed RTO transfer papers (theft cases only)
When should you not make a claim
It does not make sense to make an insurance claim when the damages is less than the No Claim Bonus. It is a waste of time for you, other party and motor insurance company. No Claim Bonus is reduction given in premium when no claim has been made in preceding years.
For example, when your insurance premium is Rs 20,000, at end of claim free year, the NCB will be around Rs 3000 ie., around 15%. So don’t go for a claim if damages are less than this NCB.
You think that you can prove that other driver is at fault in a court? In that case instead of filing to your car insurance company, you can make a third party insurance claim in the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. So your insurance policy will not be affected.
Car insurance claim procedure – points to remember
- Remember that in-house surveyors can only assess damages upto Rs 20,000. If the damages are above Rs 20,000 it should be assessed by an individual surveyor. It is illegal for your insurance company’s in-house surveyor to assess damage more than 20k as they usually will try to rip you off. The report must be submitted within 30 days of the accident by the independent surveyor.
- If you’re not satisfied with the assessment, you can always negotiate with proper reasoning.
- Remember, all legal cases pertaining to car accident cases are decided by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. You need not be afraid of anything if no fault of ours. Don’t resort to violence with the guy at other end.
- If you had lost someone in a car or motor accident and able to prove that other party is at fault, the next of kin will get 50% of the deceased person’s actual income of his/her remaining life as compensation. The court will decide the exact amount. If not, the compensation is fixed at flat Rs. 50,000.The car insurance company can also be included as one of parties in the claim.
- If it is a rented car, immediately inform the rental agency. They will take care of the insurance claim. You will have to co-pay for some part of the claim and run-around for a few days to complete procedure .
A car accident is something which we never want to get into. However, in case it happens, nowadays the car or motor insurance claim procedure in India is simple compared to the past.
Hope this was useful. Share your experience of car or motor insurance claim for other readers below. Also point out if any mistake. We’ll be glad to check and rectify.