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Fire and brimstone were what I expected from my first car insurance claim. Possibly, hours spent battling with insurance representatives over the phone, explaining, for the fifth time, that no, it wasn’t my fault I’d gotten into a car accident — and yes, I wanted my deductible back.

But filing was surprisingly easy. I filed my car insurance claim with Geico, an insurer known for affordable rates. Here’s how it went down, from filing the initial claim to getting my deductible back.

Filing the claim

To file my claim, I logged into my Geico insurance portal. I navigated to “File a claim” and followed the instructions. I needed to provide information about the accident and basic personal information about myself and the other driver, including license plate information.

What I didn’t expect was the questions about which part of my car was damaged. I had to unhook my keys, walk to the driveway, and double-check the damaged spots on my car. A phone made this easy — I just took pictures and referenced them.

It took me about 10 minutes total to file the claim. I could not fill in every field, but that ended up not mattering. Geico notified me that my claim was being processed, and what to expect.

Getting the car appraised and fixed

Getting my car appraised for damages was the next step in the claims process. I scheduled an appointment with a repair shop partnered with Geico for convenience.

It took less than a week to get my car into the shop, where I left it for another week or so. The repairs ended up costing over $4,000 to fix. The repair shop offered to do the repairs, and again, I OK’d the plan. I paid my $500 car insurance deductible and left the car in the shop.

The repairs took over a month, longer than expected. A Geico representative kept me updated via text message. Once the repairs were completed, a friend dropped me off at the shop, and I drove my Toyota home. There was nothing else I had to do regarding the claim.

Moving to arbitration

Months after paying the deductible, Geico contacted me to inform me it had moved to arbitration, a process by which it attempted to reach a consensus with the other driver’s insurance company (State Farm, in this case).

In this case, Geico believed the other company should pay for repairs. The company wanted my statement to argue the case better. In the best-case scenario, I’d be labeled “Not At Fault” and get my $500 deductible back. I could get behind that.

Nervous, I called the line texted to me by a Geico representative. Another representative picked up the line and chatted with me briefly. She asked a few recorded questions and thanked me for my time. The whole chat took about 10 minutes and was painless.

Getting my deductible back

Having my deductible returned to me was both simple and unexpected. Geico emailed me a notification that my deductible was ready to be refunded to me via bank account, debit card, or PayPal. I had the deposit sent directly to my checking account, where it landed two days later.

The whole claims process took five months, from filing a claim to getting my deposit refunded. The worst part of the experience was being without a car for over a month. To be fair, that was on me. Geico offered me credits toward a rental, but I opted for ride-hailing instead.

My first car insurance claim went smoothly. Maybe that shouldn’t have been surprising, given that Geico consistently ranks as one of the best car insurance companies. I’m glad I had good car insurance; it paid over $4,000 worth of repair fees, plus my deductible.

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