If you are in a collision and fault lies with the driver, you may want to bring a claim against the driver’s insurance for any injuries you sustain or damage to your property. If you have an injury I would always suggest consulting a lawyer. In such an instance lawyers can provide valuable services that will make things easier and help you achieve a more equitable result. In the event that you are injured, regardless of fault, it would be good to speak to a lawyer before you contact the insurance company.
In the event that you do not seek medical attention, and you are sure you have no injuries, it is fine to make your own property damage claim with the driver’s insurance. You should understand that in order to issue you payment for the damage, the insurance company will need documents to substantiate your claim for property damage.
Call the driver’s insurance company to get their claim number and find out to whom you should send the materials relevant to your property damage claim. They may ask to inspect the damaged bicycle. Sometimes adjusters will want to see and photograph the bicycle for themselves. That is a reasonable request.
Take lots of pictures of the bicycle. I like pictures of the bicycle from the drivetrain side that show the bicycle as a whole. Then I take close ups of specific damage.
Next, you should have one or two damage estimates performed at local bike shops. Bike shops do this type of thing in the regular course of their business, and there is typically no charge. If they conclude that the bicycle is totaled (meaning the cost to repair the bicycle would outweigh the value) be sure that they give you a replacement estimate. Typically a replacement estimate estimates the cost to replace a bicycle with a market equivalent. If the bicycle is repairable they will estimate the cost of the necessary parts and labor. Sometimes the shop will point out damage that you didn’t notice initially. Take more photos if you need to better document additional damage.
Before you have repairs performed you should make the bicycle available for inspection and complete all possible photographs. If the bicycle is beyond repair it should be preserved as evidence until the claim is resolved. If you elect not to fix the bicycle, do not remove any parts or make any alterations to the bicycle until the claim is resolved. If you do fix the bicycle, your claim for property damage will be equal to the amount of money you spent to have your bike returned to the functional state it was prior to the accident.
Some people think they are entitled to a new replacement bicycle, but they are mistaken. You are generally entitled to the cost to repair your bicycle or the value of your used bicycle just before it was damaged, whichever is less. Think about this in terms of a car. No insurance company is going to go out and buy you a new car when their insured totals your car. They will either total your car and give you the market value of your used car, or they will pay to have your car repaired.
Some insurance companies have expedited claims processes, but those are in the minority, so you generally should not depend on getting a check quickly from the insurance company. You will usually have to make a decision whether to pay to have the bike fixed or whether to wait for a check.
Once you have all the relevant documents collected you should send them to the adjuster. They should contact you to let you know whether or not they will pay your claim, however, some insurance companies are better than others, so it may be necessary to follow up with them yourself. If they flat refuse to give you an answer you may contact the state department of insurance to determine if there are grounds to file a complaint or you can file suit.