It’s always best to report a car accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. If you’ve been involved in an accident, first take care of any medical emergency.
If you have only minor injuries, or none at all, and have stayed on the accident scene, be sure to gather as much information as possible about the collision. You want to have as complete a picture of the accident as possible to relay to your insurance company.
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Once you’ve collected all of the accident details, you can call your insurance company on your cell phone right from the accident scene. Or you might want to wait until you get home and have had a chance to look through your auto insurance policy, so you know what you’re covered for and entitled to. Always take notes when you’re talking to your auto insurance company, including the name of the representative, their phone number, the date/time, and what was discussed.
What information about the accident will the insurance company need?
Reporting auto accidents to insurance companies is something you need to be prepared for, despite the chance that you may never need to! Your auto insurance company will want as much information as you can give them about the accident, including:
- Time of day
- Road conditions
- The police report
- Location of the accident
- Make and model of any other vehicle(s) involved
- Your description of what happened
Be sure to get the name, contact information, license plate and insurance information from any other driver involved in the accident, as well as names and contact information from any car passengers and eyewitnesses.
If you or anybody involved in the accident was treated by a first aid squad at the scene or taken to a hospital, find out the name of the ambulance service and the hospital, and the extent of the injuries.
Take as many photos as you can that help show the scene and the damage to any vehicles or property. When reporting car accidents, visual proof is a powerful tool that’s more reliable than firsthand verbal or written descriptions. It is important to be detailed when reporting an accident to your insurance company!
If the police respond to the accident and take a report, write down their names and get the ID number of their report. You or your insurance company can request to see the report later, if it becomes necessary in a dispute or lawsuit. Take as many notes at the scene as you can because it’s better to have too much information for your records than too little.
How long do I have to report a car accident to my insurance company?
While we recommend reporting your accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances. In the case of death or severe injuries, families may not be thinking clearly enough to contact their insurance company. Or, perhaps you thought your little collision with the curb wasn’t worth reporting until your car started giving you trouble a couple of months later.
All states have their own statute of limitations concerning the time period you can file a car accident claim. Insurance companies also have their own deadlines, so file your claim within those limits. This goes, too, for any personal property or injury claims you plan to file in conjunction with the accident.
Should I report a car accident if it was a minor one?
You should always report a car accident if it involves another vehicle. Even minor accidents like bumper-to-bumper collisions should be recorded in case the other party involved escalates their claim, embellishing the details of the accident.
Also, what appears to be minimal damage at the scene may, in fact, be more serious than you first thought. Some injuries, such as whiplash, may also not be felt until your emotion (anxiety, stress, and fear) from the accident has subsided, and you may have to file a medical claim.
This is true for accidents that only involve you and your vehicle. However, as long as you are the only one involved, it is your decision whether you report the accident to your insurance company. With minor accidents, paying for a simple repair out of pocket may be less expensive than paying the deductible on your insurance policy, and then you avoid the risk that your insurance premium will be increased because of the accident on your driving record.