Car insurance: How to file a claim

A claim is essentially an application that an insurance policyholder makes to the insurance company for compensation under the insurance policy. A car insurance policyholder can register a claim under his/her policy for any damage caused to his/her car. Car insurance comes in two types – third-party and comprehensive. The third-party insurance plan offers coverage against only third-party damage. The comprehensive plan, on the other hand, covers third-party damage as well as own damage. 

To receive compensation for the expenses incurred by you to fix your car post an accident or a disaster, you have to follow a certain procedure. The procedure to file a claim differs slightly for third-party damage, own damage, and stolen cars. The details are given below: 

Third-party damage 

To make a claim for third-party damage, you must lodge an FIR at the nearest police station soon after the accident. The insurance company of the car owner who caused the damage should be informed about the accident so that the claim process is initiated. In case you caused the accident, you will have to share your policy documents with the third party and if you suffered damages by a third party, he/she should provide details about his/her insurer. 

Third-party liability cases are typically settled by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal as per the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. However, most cases are solved outside the tribunal to save on time with respect to claim settlement. 

Own damage 

To claim for own damages, you will have to inform the insurance company as soon as possible, preferably within a week from the time of the incident. Only comprehensive policies cover own damages caused by accidents as well as man-made or natural disasters. You will also have to report to the police station and file an FIR. Once the insurer is informed, they will send across a surveyor who will evaluate the extent of damage of the car. Make sure you do not move the vehicle or tow it before the inspection is carried out. Post-inspection, take the car to a network garage suggested by the insurer. 

Theft 

In case of theft of your car, inform your insurance company and the nearest police station immediately. Submit all the necessary documents to the insurance company based on their requests. The police will try to trace the car once informed about the theft. After a certain period, if the car is not available, the police will provide a non-traceable certificate. The insurer will then provide you with compensation under the policy. 

Car insurance companies offer two modes of claim settlement – cashless and reimbursement. When you make a claim for damages, third party or own, you can choose to visit the network garage to get the repairs done. The insurance company will pay the coverage amount to the network garage directly. If you choose a non-network garage, you can apply for a reimbursement of the expenses you incurred to get your car fixed. 

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 has mandated insurance for all cars and driving without one is an offence. So, make sure you get your car covered under a car insurance policy. 

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