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Last updated: November 15, 2023

What Is an Insurance Claim?

Car insurance claims are how you get compensated for damages, injuries, and more.

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An insurance claim is a request to an insurance company to receive compensation for lost wages, injuries, repairs, and other losses that occurred as a result of a car accident or incident like vandalism.1

If you get into an accident, whether or not it’s your fault, you’ll probably make an insurance claim, either a first-party claim with your own provider or a third-party claim with someone else’s. When you file an insurance claim, it could be covered, meaning you’ll be financially compensated, or not covered, meaning you’ll have to pay out of pocket. But what is an insurance claim in the first place?

Auto Insurance Claims

How Insurance Claims Work

Insurance claims begin when you file a claim. Then, the insurer investigates that claim to see if your policy covers it and to determine who was at fault. You may have to pay a deductible before the insurer contributes to your expenses if the claim falls under collision or comprehensive insurance. Otherwise, insurance companies will pay covered claims up to your limit. If the claim isn’t covered, you’ll have to pay for the costs out of pocket.

Types of Insurance Claims

Different types of insurance claims that apply to different car insurance coverage types. While this isn’t a complete list, here are the most common types of insurance claims based on coverage options.

Types of Car Insurance Claims

  • Bodily injury claims: Bodily injury coverage would mean filing a claim with another party’s insurance company for your injuries they caused as the result of a collision.
  • Property damage claims: Property damage coverage also applies to the other party’s insurance company in accidents you didn’t cause. The damage could have been to your car or to another piece of personal property, like a mailbox.
  • Medical payments claims: If you get into an at-fault accident and your health insurance isn’t sufficient to pay for your medical costs, medical payments coverage or personal injury protection can cover your bills.
  • Uninsured motorist claims: Did you get into an accident with someone that drives without insurance, or doesn’t have high enough limits to cover your losses? Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage claims could reimburse you for your property damages and/or bodily injuries.
  • Comprehensive claims: If your car is damaged in incidents other than collisions, like car theft or a weather-related incident, you can use comprehensive coverage to pay for its damages.
  • Collision claims: If you caused an accident that damaged your car, collision coverage would pay for its damages.

Claim types also break down into first-party claims that you file with your own insurance company, third-party claims that you file with someone else’s insurance company, and subrogation claims, which try to retrieve compensation for losses you didn’t cause.

When to File

To receive compensation on time, file your claim ASAP, after you’ve collected all the evidence you need (more on this below).

Legally, it’s important that you file a claim within your state’s statute of limitations for property damage or personal injury claims. Otherwise, your insurance company will deny your claim.

State Statute of limitations for property damage claims (in years) Statute of limitations for personal injury claims (in years)
Alabama 2 2
Alaska 2 2
Arizona 2 2
Arkansas 3 3
California 3 2
Colorado 3 3
Connecticut 2 2
Delaware 2 2
District of Columbia 3 3
Florida 4 4
Georgia 4 2
Hawaii 2 2
Idaho 3 2
Illinois 5 2
Indiana 2 2
Iowa 5 2
Kansas 2 2
Kentucky 2 1
Louisiana 1 1
Maine 6 6
Maryland 3 3
Massachusetts 3 3
Michigan 3 3
Minnesota 6 2
Mississippi 3 3
Missouri 5 5
Montana 2 3
Nebraska 4 4
Nevada 3 2
New Hampshire 3 3
New Jersey 6 6
New Mexico 4 3
New York 3 3
North Carolina 3 3
North Dakota 6 6
Ohio 4 4
Oklahoma 2 2
Oregon 6 2
Pennsylvania 2 2
Rhode Island 10 3
South Carolina 3 3
South Dakota 6 3
Tennessee 3 1
Texas 2 2
Utah 3 4
Vermont 3 3
Virginia 5 2
Washington 3 3
West Virginia 2 2
Wisconsin 6 3
Wyoming 4 42

In some cases, the statute of limitations may be shorter than the above data, such as if the accident involved …

  • A government entity.
  • Drunk driving after drinking at a bar. For example, in every state except Virginia, South Dakota, Nevada, California, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., bars are responsible if they allow visibly drunk people to drive. If the bar is held responsible, the statute of limitations for claims is only 60 days following the accident.


States where bars are legally responsible for allowing customers to drive drunk have dram shop laws.3

That being said, there are some universal exceptions to the statute of limitations, like if the defendant meets any of the following conditions:

  • They have left the state.
  • They are a minor.
  • They are legally incompetent.
  • They are legally unfit to stand trial.
  • They have died.
  • They are imprisoned.
  • They are at war or on active military duty.

You might also come to a tolling agreement with the defendant and waive your statute of limitations to avoid court.

But in most cases, adhere to your state’s statute of limitations or, better yet, file your claim as soon as you can, whether or not the car accident was your fault.

How to File

Filing an insurance claim form is a straightforward process.

  1. Gather evidence. Gather as much evidence as you can about the accident, including the make, model, year, and Vehicle Identification Number of each car involved; the insurance and contact information of all parties; details about the day the accident occurred; photos of the damage; and a copy of the police report. Write down the names and badge numbers of any police officers you dealt with as well.
  2. Contact your insurance provider. Get in touch with your agent, or submit your claim online or through the mail. Refer to your company’s claims contact information.
Car insurance provider Email address Phone number Postal address URL
21st Century 888-244-6163 P.O. Box 268994
Oklahoma City, OK 73126-8994
Medical/PIP documents involving FL, NJ, NY:
P.O. Box 268995
Medical/PIP documents involving all other states: P.O. Box 268993
AAA N/A Enter ZIP code to find claims number:
The Auto Club Group Claim Department
P.O. Box 9001
Royal Oak, MI 48068-9826
AARP N/A 800-243-6860 The Hartford
P.O. Box 14219
Lexington, KY 40512
Allstate N/A 800-255-7828 Allstate Insurance Company
P.O. Box 660636
Dallas, TX 75266
Amica 800-242-6422 Amica Scan Center
P.O. Box 9690
Providence, RI 02940-9690
Autopom 800-654-8455 Autopom Office
22651 Lambert St., Suite 102
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Bristol West N/A 800-274-7865 Bristol West Claims Service
P.O. Box 258806
Oklahoma City, OK 73125-8806
Carchex N/A 877-227-2439 Carchex
118 Shawan Road, Suite 210
Baltimore, MD 21030
Carshield 800-531-1925 1597 Cole Blvd., Suite 200
Lakewood, CO 80401-3418
Clearcover 855-444-1875 Clearcover Insurance Agency LLC
33 W. Monroe St., Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60603
Concord N/A Maine: 800-482-7443
Massachusetts: 800-422-5246
New Hampshire: 800-888-6050
Vermont: 800-660-3838
Concord Corporate Office
4 Bouton St.
Concord, NH 03301
Dairyland N/A 800-334-0090 Dairyland Insurance Co.
1800 N. Point Drive
Stevens Point, WI 54481
Direct N/A 800-403-1077 Direct Auto Insurance Claims Department
P.O. Box 1623
Winston-Salem, NC 27102
Endurance N/A 877-414-0134 Endurance Corporate Headquarters
400 Skokie Blvd., Suite 105
Northbrook, IL 60062
Erie N/A 800-367-3743 Erie Branch Claims Office
P.O. Box 13002
Erie, PA
Esurance N/A 800-378-7262 Esurance Customer Service
P.O. Box 5250
Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5258
Farmers N/A 800-435-7764 Farmers Customer Service
6301 Owensmouth Ave.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Foremost 800-274-7865 Overnight Mail
Foremost – Box #915
c/o Citibank Lockbox Operations
8430 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Third Floor
Chicago, IL 60631
GAINSCO 866-424-6726 GAINSCO Inc.
P.O. Box 199023
Dallas, Texas 75219-9023
GEICO N/A 800-841-3000 Office locator:
GMAC 800-468-3466 N/A
Good2Go 800-727-6664 Good2Go Auto Insurance
P.O. Box 1930
Blue Bell, PA 19422-0479
Infinity 800-334-1661 Infinity Insurance
200 E. Randolph St., Suite 3300
Chicago, IL 60601
Kemper 888-253-7834
For California customers: 800-508-5833 (formerly Alliance United)
800-234-3606 (formerly Kemper Specialty California)
Kemper Claims
P.O. Box 2855
Clinton, IA 52733
Lemonade 844-733-8666 (for claim emergencies) Lemonade Insurance Agency LLC
5 Crosby St., 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10013
Liberty Mutual N/A 800-225-2467 Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston
100 Liberty Way
Dover, NH 03820
Mercury N/A 800-503-3724 Mercury Insurance
1700 Greenbriar Lane
Brea, CA 02921
MetLife – Farmers Auto N/A 800-435-7764 Farmers Insurance Customer Service
6301 Owensmouth Ave.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Metromile N/A 888-595-5485 Metromile Inc.
425 Market St., Suite 700
San Francisco, CA 94105-5418
Nationwide N/A 800-421-3535 Nationwide Headquarters
One Nationwide Plaza
Columbus, OH 43215-2220
Omega 877-850-0443 5300 W. Cypress St., Suite 155
Tampa, FL 33607
Plymouth Rock rockcare@plymouthrock 844-346-1225 Plymouth Rock Assurance
P.O. Box 55165
Boston, MA 02205
Progressive N/A 800-776-4737 The Progressive Corporation
6300 Wilson Mills Road
Mayfield Village, OH 44143
Protect My Car N/A 844-256-4762 570 Carillon Parkway, Third Floor
St. Petersburg, FL 33716
Root New claims: 866-980-9431
Existing claims: 866-489-1985
Root Insurance Claims Department
80 E. Rich St., Suite 500
Columbus, OH 43215
Safeco N/A 800-332-3226 Safeco Insurance
P.O. Box 91016
Chicago, IL 60680-1016
State Farm N/A 800-732-5246 State Farm Insurance Companies
Insurance Support Center – East
P.O. Box 588002
North Metro, GA 30029
The General 800-280-1466 The General
P.O. Box 305054
Nashville, TN 37230-5054
Toco 855-298-8626 Toco Warranty
8501 Fallbrook Ave., Suite 225
West Hills, CA 91304
Travelers N/A 800-252-4633 Travelers Personal Insurance
P.O. Box 660307
Dallas, TX 75266-0307
USAA N/A Shortcut mobile number: #8722
210-531-8722 or
9800 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, TX 78288
  1. Get your damage assessed. Once you have filed a claim, your insurance company will send an adjuster to assess the damage and determine fault.
  2. Get repair estimates. If you prefer, obtain several repair estimates from different shops and give this information to your insurance provider.
  3. Pay your deductible. If the claim fell under comprehensive or collision coverage and your provider covered it, pay your deductible.
  4. Wait for compensation. Wait for your compensation to arrive, either over the mail or through a direct deposit, assuming the claim was covered.4 Read on for more information on what to do if your provider denied your claim

The Claims Process

The claims process looks different based on whether you are filing a claim against someone else, or someone else is filing a claim against you.

Filing Against Someone Else

If you are filing a claim against someone else, you’re filing a third-party claim with their insurance company. Their insurer will investigate the claim and offer a settlement accordingly. To settle the claim, you’ll need to sign a release for damages. The amount you’ll receive also depends on your state’s negligence laws.

State Type of negligence law
Alabama Contributory
Alaska Pure comparative
Arizona Pure comparative
Arkansas Modified comparative
California Pure comparative
Colorado Modified comparative
Connecticut Modified comparative
Delaware Modified comparative
Washington D.C. Contributory
Florida Pure comparative
Georgia Modified comparative
Hawaii Modified comparative
Idaho Modified comparative
Illinois Modified comparative
Indiana Modified comparative
Iowa Modified comparative
Kansas Modified comparative
Kentucky Pure comparative
Louisiana Pure comparative
Maine Modified comparative
Maryland Contributory
Massachusetts Modified comparative
Michigan Modified comparative
Minnesota Modified comparative
Mississippi Pure comparative
Missouri Pure comparative
Montana Modified comparative
Nebraska Modified comparative
Nevada Modified comparative
New Hampshire Modified comparative
New Jersey Modified comparative
New Mexico Pure comparative
New York Pure comparative
North Carolina Contributory
North Dakota Modified comparative
Ohio Modified comparative
Oklahoma Modified comparative
Oregon Modified comparative
Pennsylvania Modified comparative
Rhode Island Pure comparative
South Carolina Modified comparative
South Dakota Slight-gross negligence comparative
Tennessee Modified comparative
Texas Modified comparative
Utah Modified comparative
Vermont Modified comparative
Virginia Contributory
Washington Pure comparative
West Virginia Modified comparative
Wisconsin Modified comparative
Wyoming Modified comparative

What do these negligence laws mean?

  • Contributory negligence: The plaintiff can’t receive compensation if they were at fault in the accident at all.
  • Pure comparative negligence: The plaintiff can receive money even if they were partially at fault; however, the amount of money is reduced by the amount of fault, so if they were found to be 15 percent at fault, they’ll receive 15 percent less compensation.
  • Modified comparative negligence: In modified comparative negligence states, the plaintiff can only receive money if they are less than 50 percent at fault.
  • Slight-gross negligence comparative: Plaintiffs can only recover if they displayed “slight” negligence and the other party displayed “gross” negligence.5


Third-party insurance claims won’t affect your car insurance rates.

If the third-party insurer denies your claim, you can appeal with a civil or small claims suit.6

Someone Is Filing Against You

If someone else makes a claim against you, your provider will do the same: investigate the claim and determine fault. If the accident was your fault, you will be liable for both property damage and bodily injuries in at-fault states, or just property damages in no-fault states.

Insurer’s Responsibilities

Any insurance company has certain responsibilities when it comes to claims; they can’t just ignore claims or not investigate them. They are required to take the following actions:

  • Act in good faith, not assuming the claim is fraudulent and discounting it immediately.
  • Investigate the claim thoroughly.
  • Respond to claims in a reasonable time period.
  • Pay or deny claims in a reasonable time period.
  • If they deny the claim, explain in writing the reason for the denial.7

How Long Claims Take

One of the biggest car insurance FAQs we get is “How long will an insurance claim take?” Unfortunately, we don’t have a direct answer to that, as the length of time depends on the type and severity of the claim. Expect to wait anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for a settlement.8

How Companies Pay Claims

Companies can pay claims either by paying a repair shop directly or by reimbursing you for your losses. This could be in the form of a check or direct deposit.

Insurance Claim Form

How to Dispute a Claim Decision

Did your insurance company deny your claim completely, or refuse to compensate you for all of your losses? If so, you can appeal their decision:

  1. Read your policy. Read your car insurance policy, including the declarations page, to see if you deserve coverage or not. If you think you deserve coverage, begin the appeal process.
  2. Contact your company. Contact your company’s claims department or customer claims department and explain the situation.
  3. Send evidence. Send in any additional evidence that demonstrates why you deserve full compensation.
  4. Try to settle the dispute internally. Your company can provide you with appraisal or arbitration services to settle your dispute without involving any third parties.
  5. Contact a third party. If that doesn’t work, you can contact a third party, such as a car insurance attorney, an independent arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association, or your state’s insurance department.9 Find your state’s insurance department below.
State URL Phone number Mailing address
Alabama 334-269-3550 201 Monroe St., Suite 502
Montgomery, AL 36104
Alaska 907-269-7900 550 W. Seventh Ave., Suite 1560
Anchorage, AK 99501-3567
Arizona 602-364-3100 100 N. 15th Ave., Suite 261
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2630
Arkansas 501-371-2600 1 Commerce Way
Little Rock, AR 72202
California 800-927-4357 300 S. Spring St., South Tower
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Colorado 303-894-7499 1560 Broadway, Suite 850
Denver, CO 80202
Connecticut 860-297-3900 153 Market Street, 7th Floor
Hartford, CT 06103
Delaware 302-674-7300 1351 W. North St., Suite 101
Dover, DE 19904
District of Columbia 202-727-8000 1050 First St., NE, 801
Washington, D.C. 20002
Florida 850-413-3140 The Larsen Building
200 E. Gaines St., Room 101A
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0301
Georgia 404-656-2070 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
West Tower, Suite 702
Atlanta, GA 30334
Hawaii 808-586-2790 P.O. Box 3614
Honolulu, HI 96811
Idaho 208-334-4250 700 W. State St., 3rd Floor
Boise, ID 83720-0043
Illinois 217-782-4515 320 W. Washington St.
Springfield, IL 62767-0001
Indiana 317-232-2385 311 W. Washington St., Suite 300
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2787
Iowa 515-654-6600 1963 Bell Ave., Suite 100
Des Moines, IA 50315
Kansas 785-296-3071 1300 SW Arrowhead Road
Topeka, KS 66604-4073
Kentucky 502-564-3630 500 Mero St., 2 SE 11
Frankfort, KY 40601
Louisiana 225-342-5423 1702 N. Third St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Maine 207-624-8475 34 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0034
Maryland 410-468-2090 200 St. Paul Place, Suite 2700
Baltimore, MD 21202
Massachusetts 617-521-7794 1000 Washington St., Suite 810
Boston, MA 02118
Michigan 517-284-8800 530 W. Allegan St.
Lansing, MI 48933
Minnesota 651-296-4026 85 Seventh Place E., Suite 500
St. Paul, MN 55101
Mississippi 601-359-3569 1001 Woolfolk State Office Building 501 N. West St.
Jackson, MS 39201
Missouri 573-751-4126 301 W. High St.
P.O. Box 690
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0690
Montana 406-444-2040 840 Helena Ave., Suite 270
Helena, MT 59601
Nebraska 402-471-2201 Terminal Building
941 O St., Suite 400
Lincoln, NE 68508-3639
Nevada 775-687-0700 1818 E. College Parkway, Suite 103
Carson City, NV 89706
New Hampshire 603-271-2261 21 S. Fruit St., Suite 14
Concord, NH 03301-7317
New Jersey 609-292-5360 20 W. State St.
P.O. Box 325
Trenton, NJ 08625
New Mexico 855-427-5674 1120 Paseo de Peralta, Suite 428
Santa Fe, NM 87501
New York 212-480-6400 25 Beaver St.
New York, NY 10004
North Carolina 855-408-1212 1201 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1201
North Dakota 701-328-2440 State Capitol
600 East Blvd., Dept. 401, 5th Floor
Bismarck, ND 58505-0320
Ohio 614-644-2658 50 W. Town St., 3rd Floor, Suite 300
Columbus, OH 43215-1067
Oklahoma 405-521-2828 400 NE 50th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Oregon 503-947-7980 P.O. Box 14480
Salem, OR 97309-0405
Pennsylvania 717-787-2317 1326 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Rhode Island 401-462-9500 1511 Pontiac Ave.
Cranston, RI 02920
South Carolina 803-737-6160 1201 Main St., Suite 1000
Columbia, SC 29201
South Dakota 605-773-4104 445 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501-3185
Tennessee 615-741-2241 500 James Robertson Parkway, Suite 660
Nashville, TN 37243-0565
Texas 512-676-6000 333 Guadalupe St.
Austin, TX 78701
Utah 801-957-9200 4315 S. 2700 W., Suite 2300
Taylorsville, UT 84114-6901
Vermont 802-828-3301 89 Main St., Drawer 20
Montpelier, VT 05620-3101
Virginia 804-371-9741 1300 E. Main St., Tyler Building
Richmond, VA 23219
Washington 360-725-7100 Insurance Building
P.O. Box 40255
Olympia, WA 98504-0255
West Virginia 304-558-3386 West Virginia Lottery Building
900 Pennsylvania Ave.
Charleston, WV 25302
Wisconsin 608-266-3585 125 S. Webster St.
Madison, WI 53703-3474
Wyoming 307-777-740 Herschler Building
106 E. Sixth Ave.
Cheyenne, WY 82002

How Claims Affect Premiums

Will filing a car insurance claim make your car insurance rates go up? That depends on whether it’s a first- or third-party claim. If you weren’t at fault for an accident and filed a third-party claim, your insurance rates won’t increase. However, most of the time, first-party claims will increase your car insurance premiums, even if the accident or incident wasn’t your fault.

Do Claims Affect Your Credit Score?

Although claims may increase your car insurance rates, they won’t impact your credit score directly. That being said, claims could affect your credit score indirectly if you can’t pay a deductible or premium and fall behind on your bills. But as long as you pay on time, claims won’t harm your credit score.

Insurance Claims Examples

We’ve outlined three basic types of claims with real-world examples.

At-Fault Claims

Let’s say you hit someone and cause property damage to their car. In that case, the other party would file a third-party property damage claim with your insurance company, while you would file a first-party collision claim with your provider.

No matter which state you live in, you’d be liable for the other car’s property damages as well as your own. Your car insurance rates would increase unless the accident fell under an accident-forgiveness policy.

No-Fault Claims

If you’re pulling out of a parking spot when another car sideswipes you, injuring your shoulder, you could file a bodily injury claim with their provider. If you live in a no-fault state like Florida, you’d file a personal injury protection claim to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and childcare.

Subrogation Claims

Imagine you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, but your insurance company uses surveillance footage to find the perpetrator who hit your car. It turns out that the perpetrator lacks car insurance, which might have been the reason they drove off so quickly.

In that case, your insurance company would file a subrogation claim, suing the driver directly in order to retrieve your compensation. The other option is to file an uninsured motorist, collision, medical payment, or personal injury protection claim to pay for your damages and injuries.


To be a savvy car insurance customer, you should understand insurance claims. For more information, read our complete guide to car insurance. If you’re looking to save money (maybe your teen driver just got their license), get an auto insurance quote or free car insurance quote, or bundle your car insurance with your homeowners insurance or life insurance.


  1. How to File an Insurance Claim: Everything You Need to Know. Ramsey. (2022, May 5).

  2. Car Accidents: Statutes of Limitations. Enjuris. (2022).

  3. Dram Shop Laws and Liability for Drunk Driving Accidents. Justia. (2021, October).

  4. What to expect when you file a car insurance claim. Allstate. (2019, September).

  5. State By State Negligence Laws. The Law Offices of Maloney & Campolo. (2020, February 14).

  6. Filing a Claim with Another Driver’s Insurance Company. Illinois Department of Insurance. (2022).

  7. Obligations of Insurance Companies When Handling Claims. FindLaw. (2017, July 6).

  8. How long does it take to get a settlement check after a car accident? Progressive. (2022).

  9. What should I do if I am having trouble settling my claim? Insurance Information Institute. (2022).