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News Release

New Jersey Department of
Banking and Insurance


Acting Commissioner Richard J. Badolato

For Immediate Release:
April 1, 2016

For Further Information:
Ed Rogan or Marshall McKnight (609) 292-5064


Christie Administration Provides Consumers Tips on Handling Private Passenger Auto Insurance Claims

TRENTON - Department of Banking and Insurance Acting Commissioner Richard J. Badolato today urged consumers to be prepared for auto accidents and other events that require the filing of an auto insurance claim, and he outlined some basic steps consumers can take to make the claims process simpler, more efficient and relatively trouble free. 

“Filing an auto insurance claim can be a complicated and daunting process,” said Acting Commissioner Badolato. “But if consumers follow some basic guidelines, they can navigate the process quickly and successfully and get on with the business of repairing or replacing their vehicles.”

General steps to take to be prepared

  • Keep your insurance ID card with you because it identifies the Company’s or Agency’s telephone number, provides the company address for notice of commencement of medical treatment and because it is required to demonstrate proof of liability insurance at the time of the loss;
  • Keep a copy of policy limits, deductibles and policy number in your vehicle;
  • If you have a smartphone, download and install the free App produced by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) called Wreck Check and place all required information in the app;
  • If you do not have a smartphone but have access to a computer, download a printable auto accident checklist provided by the NAIC and keep it in your vehicle:  www.insureuonline.org/auto_accident_checklist.pdf

At the Scene of an Accident

  • Call 911 and do not exit your auto until it is safe;
  • Refrain from admitting fault for the loss, as you may not be liable based on factors surrounding the accident;
  • Launch the Wreck Check App which should have your insurance policy and auto information preloaded and follow the steps prescribed or follow the NAIC checklist mentioned above ;
  • Send your completed report by email to yourself and to your company or your agent;
  • You should also call your company or agent to report the accident and alert them of the information sent.

Reporting a Claim

When your vehicle is damaged in an accident with another car, you have the option to file a claim either with your own insurance company, if you have the appropriate coverages (a first party claim), or with the insurer for the owner of the other car (a third party claim). In order for you to be able to file a “first party” claim, your policy must provide Collision or Comprehensive coverage. These are often called “Physical Damage Coverages.”

Collision coverage – Protects you from damage caused to your car by a collision with another vehicle, a fixed object, or an object lying in the roadway.

Comprehensive coverage – Protects you if your car is stolen or vandalized or damaged by contact with an animal or falling objects (i.e. tree limbs, rocks, stones, debris). It also covers your vehicle for glass breakage, fire, wind, hail and flood damage.

Filing a first party claim – Your insurance company will either pay to repair the damages to your vehicle or pay you the value of your vehicle if the damages exceed the car’s worth. In determining the final payment, the company will subtract the deductible amount you have chosen for that coverage.

Filing a third party claim – The other driver’s insurer will only pay for damages to your vehicle to the extent that their insured was legally responsible. In some instances, this may not be enough to reimburse you for the full amount of your loss. If you only have the other driver’s insurance company code often found on the police report, the Department maintains a link to the State of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission insurance company code list and private passenger auto insurance company contact information on its web site that consumers may use to reach out to an insurer when filing a third party claim.

To verify New Jersey private passenger auto insurance company code: www.state.nj.us/mvc/Vehicle/InsuranceCompanyCodes.htm

To locate New Jersey private passenger auto insurance contact information: www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/insurance/autoinscontacts.htm

If there are injuries – Most auto insurance policies carry first party insurance coverage for injuries. If you or a passenger in your vehicle is hurt, contact your insurance representative and be prepared to share your policy information with medical providers. 

After the Loss

After reporting the loss to the appropriate insurance carrier, make sure you also report the loss to the police who will file a report. The police report will be used by the carrier during its investigation of the loss. There are other important steps to take following a private passenger auto loss.

  • Make the damaged vehicle available for inspection by the insurance company before you have it repaired;
  • Protect your vehicle from further damage, such as cover a broken windshield to protect upholstery from the elements;
  • Cooperate with the insurance company’s investigator
  • Review your policy’s section often called “Conditions” or “Insured’s Duties After a Loss” to understand your responsibility in handling your side of the claims filing process.

Settling the Claim

The insurance company may not make an offer to settle your claim that meets your satisfaction. If this happens and you cannot reasonably settle with the adjuster assigned to your claim, you can ask to negotiate with that person’s supervisor. Should that fail to resolve the claim, there are additional steps you may take:

  • Internal Appeal – The insurer must provide an opportunity to file an internal appeal with the carrier including information as to where an appeal may be sent;
  • Request a Review – If the internal appeal does not resolve the claim, the insurer must also inform you of your right to contact the Department to request a review of the claim and the appeal determination;
  • File a Complaint – You also may file a complaint against the company in writing with the Department. To file a complaint online, go to: https://sbs-nj.naic.org/Lion-Web/servlet/org.naic.sbs.ext.onlineComplaint.OnlineComplaintCtrl?spanishVersion=N

To file a complaint on paper go to: www.state.nj.us/dobi/complain.pdf.

Contact the Department

To call the Department and request assistance in an auto insurance claims handling matter, phone 1-800-446-7467 or at 609-292-7272; Or online: www.state.nj.us/dobi/consumer.htm.
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