#1 secret to get a satisfactory resolution to your auto insurance claim

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#1 secret to get a satisfactory resolution to your auto insurance claim
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Nobody like to be involved in an accident. But when you are, there’s something you can do to improve the likelihood that you’ll walk away with a satisfactory resolution!

Read more: 18 tips to save money on car insurance

Do this when you pick up the phone to report an accident…

According to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, there’s one huge factor that can almost guarantee you’ll be happy with the outcome of a car insurance claim: How much you involve your agent.

If you’re looking to build a long-term insurance relationship, you might consider buying your coverage through a local agent. Non-captive agents can shop you around to multiple insurers because they don’t work for any one company; they work for themselves and they make it their job to get your the best policy at the right price.

Eight out of 10 customers who have a relationship with a local agent report picking up the phone when the chips are down and getting advice about how to proceed with reporting the accident to the insurer. A full 64% of those people who call their agent first get concierge service where the agent handles everything for them after that initial call!

Which brings us to the second point: See if your agent will file the claim for you—even if they’re not forthcoming about it at first. Customers who had an agent step in other behalf reported being happier with the claims process vs. those who used a call center to report the claim.

When you shouldn’t contact your agent

Of course, for every rule there’s got to be an exception. Here are a couple of cases when you wouldn’t want to contact your agent or insurer when it comes to your vehicle.

Cracked windshield

You never want to make a claim on auto insurance for something small like a cracked windshield because the consequences are so ugly. The insurer may surcharge you for a number of years or eliminate discounts you would otherwise qualify for.

When it comes to making small but legitimate claims, Clark has long been fierce about why you shouldn’t do this. What you should do instead is take the highest deductible that the insurer or your auto financier will allow and that you can afford. Typically that is a $1,000 deductible. Having a high deductible lessens the chance you’ll want to make a small piddling claim that you could probably pay for out of pocket.

We all need to think of auto and home insurance as going back to its original purpose: For catastrophic circumstances only!

For more on cracked windshields, watch Clark’s video.

Roadside assistance

Some auto insurers that offer roadside assistance treat your use of it as an at-fault claim and put that through on your CLUE report.

What’s a CLUE report? CLUE stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. It’s a shared database insurance companies report to when you make a claim. If you have too many claims on your CLUE report, that could make you radioactive to other insurers for between three and seven years.

So here’s the #1 rule regarding roadside assistance: Never get roadside assistance from your own insurer. Get it from AAA or elsewhere.

Read more: Your CLUE report: What it is and how to check it for free

Adjust auto insurance deductible to save money in the long term

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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