What Is an Insurance Claim?

Need to file an insurance claim? Learn how the process works.

insurance papers being signed, image

The first step in getting paid by your insurance company? Contact the claims department. 


When you buy certain insurance policies, you’re protecting yourself in case something goes wrong—you’re involved in a collision with another car, or a thief snags your laptop. 

When you suffer an incident, you submit a “claim,” a request for compensation, to your insurer. This might be a claim for money to fix your vehicle, replace items that were stolen, or pay medical expenses for someone injured in an accident.

How to File an Insurance Claim

To file a claim, you must:

  • Call your claims department. Find out if you’re covered and the deadline for filing your claim. Also, ask if you’ll need to get estimates for the cost of any repairs.

  • Complete the claim forms, which your insurer will send to you. Make sure to include any documentation your insurer requests, such as a police report. If you’re filing a life insurance claim, you’ll need to submit a death certificate.  

  • Contact the police if your home was robbed or vandalized, or if you had an accident. You may also need to file an accident report with the DMV. Many state laws have reporting laws, so ask your claims department about the law in your state. 

  • Document the details of a car accident including the date, time, and what happened; the other driver’s name, address, and phone number; and a description of the other driver’s vehicle including the license plate number. Make sure to take pictures of any damage.

  • Keep track of expenses you incur as a result of your accident such as medical expenses.

  • If your home was damaged, prepare for a visit from the claims adjuster. Your insurer may send an adjuster to your home, so prepare a list of items that were damaged or destroyed and be ready to show the adjuster around.

  • Call your claims professional with any questions, such as when you can expect the claim to be paid, and whether your policy transportation expense while your vehicle is being repaired.

The Insurance Claim Process

After your unfortunate event, you’ll want to get back into the groove of life as quickly as possible. Here’s how the claims process works:

  • Your claim will be reviewed by a claims adjuster to make sure that your damages are covered by your policy.

  • If your claim is approved, a claims adjuster will determine the payout due to you and you’ll receive a payment. Keep in mind that the first check may simply be an advance (a portion of the total amount owed to you), so you may receive additional checks.

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The availability, qualifications, and amounts of coverages, costs and discounts may vary from state to state and there may be coverages and discounts not listed here. In addition, other terms, conditions, and exclusions not described above may apply, and total savings may vary depending on the coverages purchased. For more information regarding your eligibility for certain coverages and savings opportunities, please contact your AAA agent. Insurance products in California offered by AAA Northern California Insurance Agency. License #0175868, in Nevada by AAA Nevada and in Utah by AAA Utah. Insurance provided by CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer.