A-O Blog

Life is complicated, insurance doesn't have to be.


Insurance Claim: What It Is, How to Start, and What Happens Next 

Read time: 3 minutes

As I backed out, I heard a crunch behind me. Sure enough, I hit a parked car.

I had a lot on my mind and apparently, what I could see in my rearview mirror wasn’t one of them.

Fortunately, nobody was in the car and it was minimal damage. I found the owner of the car, got their information and immediately called my agent.

They got back with me and talked me through it, just person to person. I felt comfortable telling them how silly I felt. They sympathized. My agent explained the entire claims process to me and I never had to talk to the owner of the vehicle I hit or their agent again. I think that was my favorite part, honestly!

As this policyholder’s experience demonstrates, the service behind an insurance claim can be enough to turn around a very bad day. So, if you’re reading this in a similar situation, we hope your day also turns around and you can learn a thing or two about the claims process.

Read more: You Just Got Into a Car Accident. Now What?


What is an insurance claim?

Let’s start with the basics.

An insurance claim is a request for payment made by a claimant to an insurance company. A claim is set up and recorded in the insurance company’s system at the time a claim is reported to a company or an insurance agent. Then, the agent or insurance company will keep a record of what is called the “first notice of loss”.

A person is bent down next to a tan car looking at the door handle with a red clipboard in their hand.

Keep in mind every insurance company’s claims process will vary.

How do I file an insurance claim?

The best way to file a claim with Auto-Owners is by contacting the local independent agency where you purchased your policy. If the loss occurs after your agent’s business hours you can call 1.888.252.4626 for our after-hours service. You can also visit https://www.auto-owners.com/claims/report-a-claim for more information and to find your agent.

Again, this is how our process works but every insurance company’s claims process will vary.

Read more: What is an Independent Insurance Agent? Everything You Need to Know


What happens after I file a claim?

Once the claim is filed, we should assign a claim representative to your claim. The claim representative will contact the parties involved to begin an investigation. This includes reviewing insurance coverages and assessing damages and liability if applicable. Any payments are based on the outcome of this investigation.

Depending on your insurance company, this process may vary. If you do not work with a specific agent, keep track of who you speak with at the agency and/or insurance carrier.

A person is seated at a desk writing on a piece of paper attached to a clipboard while pressing keys on a calculator.

Are there things I can do to help my claim go well?

Most claims go well all on their own, but there are a few policyholder obligations you should be aware of:

  • Report the claim as soon as possible. This is not only a requirement of most policies, but reporting it quickly allows the insurance company to begin the investigation while the evidence is fresh. This allows them to make the best and most informed decisions possible.
  • Provide all requested documentation. This can be a daunting task depending on the size of the claim, but documentation is an important way claims are supported and verified.

Many insurance companies are moving to more automated claim handling with less human interaction. We understand there is certainly a place for automation in claims handling. But, when you’re filing a claim (which more than likely means you’re having a rough day) we think it’s important to have a real person answer your call. That’s why our claim associates are available by phone and, outside of a pandemic, in person as well.

Providing you with personal, human service is what we believe makes Auto-Owners Insurance refreshingly human. Which, if you ask us, is just simple human sense.


*Products referenced may not be approved/available in all states. Limitations and conditions may apply. Premium will be based on benefits chosen and policy rates available at time of application.

Disclaimer: This article is not expert advice. The analysis of coverage is in general terms and is superseded in all respects by the Insuring Agreements, Endorsements, Exclusions, Terms and Conditions of the Policy. Some of the coverage mentioned in this material may not be applicable in all states or may have to be modified to conform to applicable state law. Some coverages may have been eliminated or modified since the publishing of this material. Discounts may not be available in all states. Limitations and conditions may apply. Premiums will be based on benefits chosen. Please check with your local Independent Auto-Owners Insurance Agent for details."

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