How To File a Claim

A claim could be for costs, damages or for payment of a sum insured in the event of a certain incident happening such as accident, disability, death and so on. This article provides general tips on what to do while preparing papers and how to file a claim.

Firstly, ascertain the nature of your claim. Is it for payment of money or compensation for damages suffered or does it also involve a plea for stopping certain actions by third parties, also referred to as an injunction. Find out the appropriate forum for addressing your claim such as a small claims court, the civil court, labour disputes tribunal, employment court, insurance agency, motor vehicles court and so on. Check that you have approached the forum having jurisdiction over your claim.  Jurisdiction is determined by where you live, where the claim arose or incident occurred and so on.

Once that is done, it is time to ascertain and obtain the appropriate applications for making your claim. Arrange for appropriate and adequate supporting documentation and information.  Complete all applications accurately.

Most claim procedures require that you provide adequate proof and that this proof is authenticated in the form of documents issued by a government agency, complaints and/or "First Information Reports" filed with appropriate law enforcement agencies. If it is factual information supplied by you, then it should be stated in the form of an affidavit, duly sworn before a Notary Public. Photograph and video evidence may also be required in certain jurisdictions.

If your claim involves court action, it is advisable to provide notice to the party whom you wish to sue and against whom claim is being made. The notice should demand payment of the claim within a specified [reasonable] time period and stating that failing such payment legal action could be initiated by you.

Initiate the claim procedure upon not receiving the payment. Include a plea for stopping an action by the party being sued or any other, if such action were to prejudice your claim or to destroy evidence.

The application or petition should be submitted at the appropriate forum. Allow the normal time taken for scrutiny of your documents. 

Upon completion of scrutiny and successful submission, a claim number, or case number is allotted.  This number should be referred in all future communications. Normally a date is fixed for hearing your plea or application and if it involves other parties, they are given a chance to defend themselves.  All submissions should be in writing and as far as specified, should be made on prescribed forms and procedure. Ensure to attend all specified dates for hearing your application/petition/claim [personally or through a duly authorized representative, such as an attorney]. Since the claim is being made by you, the burden of proving that the incident occurred and that damages were suffered will be entirely on you.

 It should be borne in mind that observance of requisite formalities and strict adherence to the specified procedures will ensure a speedy addressing of your claims and completion. Most often, there are avenues for appealing to a higher authority in case your claim is not addressed properly.

The above tips are a general guidance for filing claims. It will be in your best interest to seek professional assistance of your insurance agent, attorney or directly with the appropriate government agency.


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