Road accidents are a huge headache in the U.S., accounting for 38,000 deaths per year. Of those who survive, 4.4 million suffer injuries bad enough to require medical attention.
Getting involved in a road accident can be a stressful experience. After the shock has settled and you’ve received medical attention, there are certain things you’ll need to do. One of the essential steps following a car accident is to report the accident to the appropriate auto insurance company.
So, how do you go about reporting an accident to insurance providers? What should you say, and what should you not? Should you work with a car accident lawyer, or is it okay to deal with the insurance company on your own?
If you’re asking yourself these questions, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we tell you all you need to know about reporting a car accident to insurance.
What Is the Importance of Reporting an Accident to Insurance?
Many drivers are reluctant to alert their insurance company after a car accident. Most fear that their insurance premiums will increase. Others assume that they can work everything out with the other driver or on their own.
Sure, no one can blame you for wanting to avoid higher insurance premiums in the future. But how sure are you that you and the other driver can make everything right without involving insurance? How much do you really know this other driver?
The risk is not worth it. Failing to report the accident to the police and the insurance company is risking trouble with the authorities. The last thing you want is to find yourself staring at a lawsuit you have little chance of winning.
The reasons to alert your insurance company right away are many. Let’s look at just 3 of them.
That Was Your Agreement When You Purchased Your Insurance
Every auto insurance policy in the US requires the vehicle owner to report accidents. Fail to adhere to these terms, and you could be hit with hefty penalties. Your insurance provider may even have the right to deny your car accident claim.
Injuries and Damage May Not Be Necessarily Obvious at the Scene
You may barely feel any pain or notice any injuries immediately after the accident. Similarly, you may think that all you need is a few hundred dollars to replace the bumper, until a few days later when it becomes apparent that your injuries are severe and your car requires thousands of dollars to repair.
If you failed to report the accident, what evidence will you have to back your claims that you need compensation? Even worse, if the other driver denies that the collision ever happened, how will you prove your side of the story?
It’s Not the Same Thing as Filing a Claim
Reporting a car accident to insurance is much different than filing a claim. That means that you shouldn’t be afraid of your premium increases as a rate adjustment only happens once you file a claim.
By calling your insurer after the accident, you’re making sure that you’ll be covered in case of significant injuries or damage to your car. Even if you won’t need to make a claim you’ve done the right thing and risked nothing.
Reporting a Car Accident to Insurance
Note that there are two main types of insurance claims you can make. The first type is known as the first party insurance claim, and you report to your insurance company. The second is the third-party claim and is made to the insurance provider of the other driver if they were at fault for the accident.
Contact the appropriate insurance company at your earliest possible opportunity. For a first-party insurance claim, alert your auto insurance company through a direct call or by reporting the accident online at their website.
For a third-party insurance claim, ask for insurance information from the other driver and contact their insurer. Some of the information you may be required to provide include:
- The full names of the insured driver
- Their policy number
- Their policy’s start and end dates
- The driver’s license number for both drivers
- The timer and date of the accident
- The license plate numbers for both cars
- A general description of the accident
After you’ve reported the accident, the insurance company arranges a car inspection and reviews the evidence. The company may schedule an appointment for an expert vehicle damage estimate. A claims adjuster will then determine the amount be paid for the damages suffered.
All insurance companies have their set deadlines for car owners to report accident claims. If you don’t adhere to the set deadline, you risk undesirable consequences.
Know What to Say
When reporting an accident to insurance, you need to disclose all essential details pertaining to the accident. However, you are not under any obligation to tell your insurer everything.
Among the things you need to tell your insurer about is whether or not you suffered an injury. Be careful not to disclose details of your injury before you’ve received a proper diagnosis from your doctor.
If the insurance company asks you questions, answer those questions only, and refrain from volunteering information that’s not been requested. Remember to stick to the facts and don’t exaggerate facts or make small talk.
A common mistake many car owners make is to agree to early settlement offers. Most insurance companies issue settlement checks early on. It’s best to wait until you’ve talked to one of the seasoned car accident lawyers in your area and heard their advice on the best move to make.
Now You Know How to Report an Accident to Insurance
Reporting an accident to insurance is not just a smart move; it’s the requirement. Failing to do so poses the risk of being denied coverage, besides other consequences. Now that you know how to go about it, there’s no reason to avoid this important step after a car accident.
Would you like to read more great content on car accident reporting? Please keep visiting our blog.