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How To Report an Accident to Insurance

Getting involved in a motor vehicle accident is stressful enough. But now you're faced with going through the insurance claims process as well. Reporting an accident to an insurance company doesn't have to be complicated. This article provides helpful information on how to report an accident to insurance.

Do I Report to My Own Insurance Company?

It depends on which type of insurance claim you file. There are two types of insurance claims: (1) first-party insurance claims and (2) third-party insurance claims.

For first-party insurance claims, you need to report to your own insurance company. For third-party insurance claims, you need to report to the insurance company of the other driver who was at fault for the accident. In some instances, you may need to submit both a first-party insurance claim and a third-party insurance claim. It is best to speak to an experienced attorney who can help you with this process.

Reporting a Car Insurance Claim

You should contact the auto insurance company after the car crash as soon as you can. If you're filing a first-party insurance claim, call the number on your insurance card or go online to report the accident. If you're filing a third-party insurance claim, you should obtain insurance information from the other driver to contact their insurer.

The insurance company may ask for the following information:

  • The insured driver's full name and phone number
  • Policy number
  • Start and end date of the insured driver's policy
  • Date and time of the accident
  • Driver's license number and license plate numbers for all drivers
  • General description of the accident

The insurance company will investigate your claim by arranging a car inspection and reviewing evidence. Most companies will schedule an appointment to get a vehicle damage estimate. Next, a claims adjuster will determine the amount to pay you for the damages you suffered.

Keep in mind that every insurance company will have its own deadline to report an accident claim. Be sure to file an insurance claim within that time limit in order to avoid any negative consequences or penalties.

Be Prepared: What To Say and What Not To Say

Although you'll need to disclose certain details of the accident and provide accurate information, you're not obligated to tell everything to the insurance company. Here's a list of things to keep in mind when you're reporting the accident to the insurance company:

  • Reporting your injury: While you should tell the insurance company that an injury exists, do not disclose details about your injuries until after you've seen a doctor. Be careful not to give any self-diagnosis statements.
  • Submitting written statements: Do not give any recorded or written reports to the insurance company until you are sure about what you're submitting and what the effects of those statements are under state law. If you're not sure, it is always best and preferable to talk to a personal injury lawyer in your area before speaking to an insurance adjuster.
  • Answering questions: When the insurance company asks you questions, only answer the questions that have been asked. Do not voluntarily give information that hasn't been requested. It is best to consult with an attorney prior to answering any questions.
  • Telling the truth: When you're reporting your car accident, stick to the facts of the accident. Be careful not to make small talk or exaggerate the facts. Only answer the questions asked and do not offer or give any additional information.
  • Agreeing to early settlement offers: Often, the insurance company will issue a settlement check early on. Do not accept an early settlement offer unless you're confident it's the best offer you'll receive. Once you accept the offer and sign a release, you cannot go back to obtain more compensation.

What To Expect Next

Once an insurance adjuster reviews your case, the insurance company will make a resolution. They will either deny your claim or accept your claim by issuing you a settlement check. Before settling your injury claim, it's highly advisable to consult a personal injury lawyer to make sure you're getting a fair deal.

Will my insurance policy cover the property damage from the accident?

The answer depends on the type of insurance coverage you have. If you have comprehensive or collision coverage, your insurance policy should cover the damage to your vehicle, regardless of who was at fault. If you only have liability coverage, your insurance will only pay for the other party's property damage if you were at fault for the accident.

What is the difference between an accident report and a police report?

An accident report and a police report provide important records of the accident but serve different purposes. The accident report you submit to your insurance company documents your perspective of the incident and helps initiate the claims process.

On the other hand, a police report prepared by a law enforcement officer often includes more comprehensive information. This could range from witness statements to diagrams of the accident scene created by a police officer, which could be valuable if liability is disputed or if legal action becomes necessary.

What happens if the at-fault driver's insurance doesn't fully cover my bodily injury expenses?

If your bodily injury expenses exceed the at-fault driver's insurance coverage limits, you can use your own underinsured motorist coverage (if you have it) to pay for the remaining costs. Alternatively, you might consider taking legal action against the at-fault driver to recover the remaining expenses.

Do I have to pay a deductible when I file a car accident claim?

It depends on the type of claim. If you file a claim with your own insurance company under your collision coverage, you will usually need to pay a deductible. However, if you file a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company, you typically won't need to pay a deductible.

Should I report a minor fender bender to my insurance company?

Yes, reporting even minor accidents to your insurance company is recommended. Failing to report an accident could violate the terms of your insurance policy. It could also potentially lead to a future denial of coverage for that accident. Injuries or damages from the accident may not become apparent until later, so it's also important to have a record of the incident.

Who pays for medical bills after a minor accident?

Medical bills resulting from a car accident are usually paid by the insurance company of the person at fault. If the at-fault driver's insurance isn't enough to cover your bills, your own auto insurance or health insurance may cover the remaining costs. Some states also have personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay) coverage. These can help cover medical expenses regardless of who's at fault.

Is there a time limit for reporting an accident to my insurance company?

Yes, there's a time limit for reporting an accident to your insurance company. It is often specified in your insurance policy. However, this differs from the legal statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after a car accident. This is determined by state law. Be sure to report an accident to your insurance company as soon as possible to avoid potential issues with coverage.

Have Questions? Get Legal Advice From a Car Accident Lawyer

Even if you're not filing a lawsuit to recover car accident damages, you should consider speaking with an experienced car accident attorney in your area. An attorney who handles car accident cases can maximize the amount of damages you recover and potentially expedite the insurance claims process.

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