After a major car accident, provided you’re not seriously hurt, you need to begin the process of repairing your car by filing a claim with your insurer. Nowadays, instead of fumbling to find phone numbers when you get home, you can initiate a claim immediately from your phone — and get your vehicle fixed faster.
As with many other changes to insurance in the past few years, the rise in claims on mobile phones is partly due to COVID-19, says Elixabete Larrea, partner in the insurance practice at consulting firm McKinsey. “What we've seen is carriers have had to move very quickly” in shifting towards digital claims management due to constraints placed on insurance adjusters' in-person work during the pandemic, she says.
Being ready in case of a claim may be the key reason to install your insurer’s mobile app, but it isn’t the only one. Apps also offer such other pluses as providing access from anywhere to information on your policy. Here’s why and how to go mobile with your car-insurance interactions.
Filing an accident claim via insurance app
Your insurer’s app should, at the very least, provide links or phone numbers to facilitate filing a claim from your device.
The best apps go a step further and offer a guided claims process. That typically includes the ability to upload photos of the crash scene directly into the app, and to use the phone’s technology to automatically capture the location and time of the event.
Images that capture damage to your vehicle and other vehicles involved in the crash, as well as to property such as fences and barriers, provide useful data, says Neil Keane, field CTO with Smart Communications, which advises insurance companies on customer service issues. He urges drivers to take pictures with their phone, regardless of how they’ll eventually be conveyed to the insurance company.
Some companies have features that make the shots easier for you to organize and the adjuster to process, such as the QuickFoto Claim function of Allstate’s app.
Apps also help facilitate communication with your insurer as your claim is processed, says Deniz Cultu, partner in the insurance practice at consulting firm McKinsey. “It can be much more efficient to interact back and forth through the app [rather than by other means] as the claim gets processed,” Cultu says.
The best apps for car insurance claims
Though the best car insurance companies usually offer apps to file claims for both iPhones and Androids, there are some differences.
American Family offers an app called MyAmFam. You can easily file a claim through the app and check the status anytime. The app allows users to manage payments, track claims, show proof of insurance and access roadside assistance. You can also locate auto shops and glass replacement services from the app.
If you want to enroll in a usage-based program, you can download the KnowYourDrive app.
Google Play customers rank this app 4.2 out of 5 stars. Apple users rank the app 4.8.
The Nationwide app lets you view your account, file a claim and check the claim status from your phone. It also gives you instant access to your insurance card and lets you choose the repair shop for your car repairs.
This app also lets you change your policy’s due dates if needed. Additionally, you can use it to find a rental car or add new drivers to your plan.
Google Play customers rank this app 4.3 out of 5 stars, while Apple users rank it 4.6 stars.
State Farm's mobile app lets you view your insurance card, file a claim and request roadside assistance. You can also monitor your claims through the app and upload supporting documents. State Farm's app also provides an optional telematics program that monitors your driving habits to help you save money on your rates.
The IOS app on iPhones lets you connect to Siri, providing voice commands within the app. You can also use it to send messages to your agent and login via Face ID.
Google Play users rank this app 4.7 out of 5 stars. Apple users rank it 4.8 stars.
Farmers allows you to start your claim, make payments, view policy documents, report claims and get quotes through the mobile app. While you can start a claim with the app, you must speak with an agent to complete it. However, the app provides methods for contacting your agent.
Additionally, you can store your insurance ID cards in your Apple Wallet with an iOS system and use Siri to acquire account information.
Google Play users rank this app 4.6 out of 5 stars, while Apple users rank it 4.8 stars.
You can file claims, check your account balance and chat with a virtual assistant via this app. It also provides access to your insurance cards and alerts you when your car needs routine services. GEICO also offers a usage-based program based on your driving habits.
The GEICO app includes a button to help you locate nearby gas stations. It also includes GEICO’s Mobile Vehicle Care – a program that alerts you when your vehicle has recalls or needs routine maintenance or repairs. You can also track all your maintenance history within the app.
Google Play users rank this app 4.6 stars out of 5. Apple users rank it 4.8 stars.
One highlight of the Root app is that it advertises that you can file a claim in only three minutes. This app also provides consumers with a unique feature called a "test drive" where you go for, as the name would suggest, a test drive while the app measures your driving habits. Root uses this information when offering a car insurance quote. Root also considers other factors in quotes, including your driving record, age and location.
Google Play users rank the app 3.4 stars. Apple users rank it 4.7 stars.
Savings in time and (eventually) money
Greater digitization of car-insurance claims is a win for policyholders, says Jack Gillis, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America. “The good news is that these apps have the potential to dramatically speed up the reimbursement process,” Gillis says.
That, in turn, can serve to lower insurers’ claims-handling costs, according to customer-service consultant Keane. The company “can get the info they need quickly, and use the likes of apps to gather data that might formerly have been in forms, which are not efficient,” because they take more time and are prone to error.
Eventually, says Gillis, the efficiency savings should be passed along to drivers. “Reducing the overall cost of an accident repair process ends up serving the consumer from a competitive standpoint,” he points out.
The app can also help the insurer communicate with other stakeholders, potentially saving more time. Leslie Plumberg, managing claims account executive at CBIZ, says that an increasing number of auto repair shops also work with insurers’ apps, which can reduce both time and hassle. Since newer cars today tend to have more sophisticated, expensive sensors, cameras and other safety equipment, it can sometimes be difficult to assess the extent of vehicular damage until the car is taken apart. With the app interfaces, auto shops can upload their own photos if they discover additional damage and obtain approval from the insurer to make those more extensive repairs without having to schedule an in-person visit from an adjuster.
“It’s very, very simple,” Plumberg says. “The repair process of the claim is going to be done a lot quicker.”
What you can do on car insurance mobile apps
Car insurance apps simplify the claims process, but each company's app is different. However, most allow you to do the following things:
Pay your bill
If you connect your bank account to the app, you can use it to pay your bills. You can set up recurring payments or make one-time payments. Most apps also accept payments through Apple Pay or Google Pay, depending on your phone type.
File a claim
You can generally start the claims process on a car insurance app. Some provide the phone number to call after an accident, while others walk you through the entire process directly through the app.
Manage an ongoing claim
You can check the status of your claim through the app to stay informed of the progress. Your app might also give you details about your policy's coverage of a rental car while your car is in the shop.
Review your policy
The app should also contain your policy details. You can see the types of insurance coverage you have and your deductibles. You can also look at your personal injury protection, liability and medical payment coverage amounts. The app might also provide details for finding cheaper car insurance rates.
Call for roadside assistance
As a motorist, you might encounter times when you need help. If your policy includes roadside assistance, you can use the app to call for roadside assistance if you run out of gas, get a flat tire or have a dead battery.
Upload photos and documents
After a claim, the insurance agent will ask for documents and pictures from the accident. For example, the agent will need a copy of the police report and evidence of property damage. Many car insurance apps let you upload these items directly through your phone.
There can also be further features for those who bundle their car policy with others from the same company, such as keeping your inventory (with photos) of the items in your home covered under your homeowners insurance policy.
Work with a virtual customer service rep to answer questions
There might be times when you have questions about your coverage, claims or rates. If so, most insurance apps have virtual customer service representatives that can answer your questions. You can view your car insurance app to see how it works when you have questions.
Receive push notifications about your account information
You can set up your app to receive push notifications. These can remind you to pay your bills or offer updates about an ongoing claim.
Connect directly with your agent (if you have one)
Many apps also allow you to communicate with your agent. You can often send messages to your agent through the apps when you have questions. You might also use this feature to ask your agent about cheap car insurance options.
In short, there are plenty of pluses to using your phone to manage your car insurance, even if you’re lucky enough to avoid having to file a claim. You can start by simply searching for and downloading your insurer's free app in the Google Play or Apple App Stores.
Car insurance apps FAQs
How can I file a claim through the app?
Can you pay bills with car insurance apps?
Can my insurance company track my phone through the app?
Apps will track your driving habits if you enroll in a telematics program. These programs record your speeding levels, cornering and rates of starts and stops in real time.
Insurance agencies reward safe driving habits with lower car insurance premiums. You can save money, in some cases, through these programs. You can also save money by bundling your renters or home insurance policies. Numerous insurance companies offer telematics programs, including Liberty Mutual and Root.