If you have a minor accident, you may wonder whether it’s necessary to involve your insurer.
In almost all cases, you should contact your auto insurer after any kind of accident, even if it’s a minor fender-bender.
Do You Need to Report a Minor Accident to Your Insurer?
If you are involved in an accident involving another driver, especially if the accident involves injuries or property damage, you should contact your insurer. The only possible exception is if you damaged only your own vehicle and there were no injuries or property damage involved.
Why are Some People Reluctant to Contact Their Insurers After a Minor Car Accident?
There are two leading reasons for people involved in minor car collisions trying to avoid reporting the accident to their insurers:
- Assuming that insurance rates will increase as a result of making a claim.
- Imagining that the situation can be managed with the other motorist without involving insurance companies.
You should note that every auto insurance policy in the United States requires policyholders to report any accident they are involved in. Failing to promptly report an accident to your insurer could lead to subsequent penalties or complications.
Some motorists involved in fender benders agree at the scene of the accident to work things out without involving the insurance companies. This is always a bad idea.
Firstly, either you or the other motorist may realize that the damage is more severe than first imagined. Additionally, you or the other motorist may present with injuries that were not immediately apparent at the scene of the accident.
You could be denied certain protection by your insurer if another driver later makes a claim for injuries or unnoticed vehicle damage if you failed to report that accident to your insurer after it happened.
If you are driving a vehicle on your own property and scrape the fence or back into the garage door, there are no injuries involved, and the only property damaged is your own, you do not need to contact your insurance company. There is no dispute with another party here, and there is no chance of a dispute concerning the cost of repairs either.
When You Should Notify Your Insurer About an Accident
You should contact your auto insurer within 72 hours of any accident that could trigger the filing of a claim. Your policy may stipulate different deadlines for reporting any incident, so make sure you familiarize yourself with the specifics of your policy.
In the following scenarios, you should promptly contact your insurance company:
- If you were involved in a car collision where occupants of the vehicles sustained injuries, as well as significant property damage, you should always contact your auto insurance carrier. Tell them what happened, even if you were not injured, and even if you do not feel you were at fault for the accident.
- If a guest at your home is injured. This could be a slip and fall injury, a dog bite, or any other injury.
If you are involved in a minor car accident and you are questioning whether or not to reach out to your insurer, ask yourself these questions:
Is there a chance I may file a claim in connection with this incident at a later stage?
Is it possible that another party might file a claim against me pertaining to this incident, resulting in coverage kicking in under the policy in question?
If you feel the answer to either of these questions is “Yes”, you should notify your insurer.
What Happens When You Contact Your Insurer?
Whether you talk to an agent you have previously dealt with or a claims adjuster, provide the following facts:
- How the incident happened.
- Who was involved.
- Whether there were any witnesses to the incident.
- Who was injured.
- The extent of property damage, if any.
In many cases, the insurance agent will elicit the above information by asking a series of questions. Try to be as honest as possible, giving detailed responses, but always keeping to the specifics.
While you should be transparent with your insurer, be wary of what you reveal if you are contacted by a representative from another party involved in the accident. Never admit liability, and ask the insurer to contact your insurance company or attorney.
Before terminating the initial call, ensure that you have confirmation that the provided information will be filed with the claims office of the insurance carrier. You should receive a letter documenting your claim within a few days. Follow up directly with the claims office if you do not receive this formal letter outlining your claim after a week or so.
What unfolds next is contingent on whether or not a claim is filed over the incident. This could be a claim by you or by the other party involved in the accident.
In either scenario, you will need to cooperate with the insurance company’s investigation, allowing the insurer to inspect damage to your vehicle or property. The insurance company may also want to examine any medical records.
The most effective route to getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries is to retain an experienced personal injury attorney. The contingency fee basis means you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket, instead paying a percentage of your expected settlement.
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