How do insurance companies investigate car accidents?

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

If you have been in a car accident on California’s busy streets and highways, in the initial aftermath and panic of the accident it may be easy to overlook the initial steps in documenting evidence for an insurance claim and investigation. But how do insurance companies investigate accidents in the first place, and how much of the burden of accident investigation and proof is on you?

Although insurance companies put a great deal of effort into investigating claims, in the end the majority of work that goes into a successful investigation in your favor is on you. The California Department of Insurance lists a number of things you can do (and things you should avoid) to facilitate a seamless claim and investigation. This includes exchanging driver information and taking photos of the damage as soon as possible; preferably you should be able to take photos on the scene, including photographing both vehicles and their positions relative to each other to provide as much information as possible about the circumstances of the accident.

This information should be submitted as part of your official claim with your insurance company. The insurance company should follow up with you to obtain additional information and often obtain signed or sworn affidavits. They may investigate the scene of the accident to ensure it matches with your report, and may contact the other person involved in the accident or conduct an official appraisal and inspection of the damage to your vehicle. If you were injured, the investigation may also involve further communication with you and with medical professionals able to document and certify the extent of your injuries.

This information is provided as an informational resource, and not as legal counsel.

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