Auto Claim

Accidents and thefts can be stressful. Our recovery process takes the pressure off.

I've reported my claim, now what?

From the time you suffer an accident or theft to the point your claim is settled, American Family Insurance is committed to helping you through the claim process, including repair of your vehicle.

In most circumstances, the claim specialist taking your report addresses your immediate vehicle needs and lets you know when to expect additional contacts.

Here is further information to help make the settlement process a little smoother, and to define the team taking part in your claim.

What to do next?

  • Take reasonable steps to secure your property. For example, if your vehicle has broken glass, try to prevent further damage from rain or snow.
  • If your vehicle is at a tow or impound lot, arrange to release it for inspection or repair.
  • If your vehicle is severely damaged or possibly not repairable:
    • locate your title
    • find your loan/lease number, latest statement and any information about the payoff process (if there's a lien or lease on the title)
    • consider your replacement vehicle options
  • If your vehicle is stolen, be prepared to tell your claim specialist such details as the vehicle identification number (VIN), engine type, mileage and options.  Should the vehicle be recovered, please notify American Family.

Answers to Some Common Questions

How does American Family estimate the damage to a vehicle?

Where your vehicle is repaired is up to you. (If you'd like, your claim specialist can help you select one of our pre-approved Certified Repair Program shops.) We may ask for the shop to submit an estimate and photos for our review, and to find an agreeable price for the repair plan. We may also need to inspect your vehicle so we can determine if the vehicle is repairable or the extent of damage to complete the repair plan.

What makes my vehicle not repairable?

Vehicles are no different than other damaged items such as washing machines. Their age, life expectancy, overall condition, repair cost and replacement price may play a part in your decision to repair or replace them.

When a vehicle’s repair cost exceeds the market value prior to the loss, it is automatically considered not repairable. In other cases, the damage appraiser considers the following factors before deciding if a vehicle should be fixed: cost to repair, market value prior to the loss (actual cash value) and value in its damaged condition (salvage value).

What if I need transportation?

If your vehicle is not safe to drive or you need alternate transportation while it’s in the shop, let your claim specialist know. He or she can confirm whether your policy provides rental coverage and review any related costs. Even if you don’t have coverage, you can still get a favorable rate from our preferred provider.

Settlement Terms You May Hear

Actual Cash Value (ACV) – What your vehicle was worth just before your loss.

Deductible – For certain coverages such as collision and comprehensive, you and your agent chose an amount to be your responsibility before your policy coverage begins to pay. Your claim specialist will let you know when this amount is needed and how it will change your settlement.

Betterment – The difference between the cost to replace a part and its value at the time of loss. You may owe this amount when wear and tear items are replaced during vehicle repair.

Wear and Tear – Some vehicle parts have a limited life span and are normally replaced during routine vehicle maintenance. In the repair process, wear and tear items (such as tires, batteries and exhaust components) may need to be replaced with new ones. In such cases, betterment will apply.

Example: At the time of a vandalism claim, your vehicle has three-year-old tires with 40,000 miles on each. Your damage estimate includes replacing two wear and tear items – your front slashed tires. These tires will now be better than the worn ones you had at the time of your claim. Because an auto policy does not cover improvements to your vehicle through repairs made by American Family, you are required to pay betterment.

Salvage Value – The monetary value of a damaged vehicle based on what a salvage dealer would pay for it “as is.”

Replacement Parts – Parts used to repair accident damages. These include:

  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Parts – New parts supplied directly from the original manufacturer of your vehicle.
  • Aftermarket Parts – New, non-OEM parts manufactured to meet American Family standards for a quality repair.
  • Reconditioned or Remanufactured Parts – Recycled OEM parts rebuilt or restored to their original condition for use on another vehicle after passing quality assurance guidelines.
  • Salvage Parts – Quality parts taken from a vehicle in a salvage yard. These are generally OEM parts from a vehicle of the same make and model as your damaged vehicle.

Example: If your left-front door needs repair, and a salvage facility has the same type of vehicle with only damage to the right side, the undamaged left-front door from that vehicle can be sold as salvaged, recycled or like kind and quality (LKQ) to repair your vehicle.

Meet the Team that will Help with Your Claim

Here are some of the American Family specialists who may assist you during the claim process.

Claim Customer Care Center Representative (on phone) – Gathers basic information on your loss; addresses immediate concerns; provides overview of claim process; and sometimes handles your claim to completion.

Adjuster – Determines coverage, liability and damages pertaining to your loss.  Either a company or independent adjuster may represent the company in determining the loss amount.

Physical Damage Appraiser – Assesses damage and determines your vehicle’s value; writes estimate; works with repair shops.

Rental Representative – Assists with car rental process (working closely with adjuster and repair shop) to ensure you are back in your vehicle as soon as possible.

Glass Representative – Helps set up appointments with your chosen shop for repairing or replacing glass damage; monitors glass-damage only claims as a representative for American Family.

When CATastrophic Events Occur

The following specialists may assist you during a “CATastrophic” storm or non-weather event that produces severe damage.  By activating its CAT Team to address larger-scale events, American Family ensures that day-to-day claims in the same area can still be met.

CAT Field Adjuster – Determines coverage and provides onsite estimates for catastrophic (CAT) losses.

CAT Desk Adjuster – Settles catastrophe claims; reviews and explains damage settlements; issues drafts and final instructions.

CAT Support Staff – Assist with the claim process after a catastrophic loss by taking loss information, setting up claims, scheduling appointments, answering questions, etc.

*These recommendations were developed using generally accepted safety standards. This website is for informational purposes only; it is not part of the insurance contract.