Yes, you need a police report for a fender bender if anyone is injured or if the cost of the property damage exceeds a certain amount, as determined by your state. Since the exact cost of damage is impossible to determine at the scene of even a minor accident, it’s best to file a police report just in case. Police reports are also important if any driver ends up filing a claim because insurance companies use them as evidence when determining who was at fault.
You Don’t Need a Police Report If:
No one is injured.
Property damage is below the state’s threshold.
The other driver accepts blame and has insurance.
You get the other driver’s insurance information in writing.
You talk to your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company, and both insurers tell you they have everything they need.
If all of the above conditions are met, not filing a police report could make sense. However, you should always err on the side of caution and file a police report if there’s any question of whether the damage surpasses your state’s threshold.
Property Damage Thresholds for a Police Report
any property damage
District of Columbia
$1,500 ($500 if a vehicle is uninsured)
any property damage
any property damage
a vehicle is not drivable
Source: AAA, state governments
For more information, check out WalletHub’s guide to dealing with car accidents.
Yes, you should report a fender bender to insurance. Most insurance policies require the policyholder to report any accident to the insurance company within 30 days, regardless of whether they plan to file a claim or not.
It’s important to remember that reporting an accident is not the same as filing a claim. As a result, you should report the crash even if you don’t plan to file a claim later. If the other driver files a claim with your insurer and you never reported the accident, your insurance company may deny you coverage or even drop your policy.… read full answer
Why You Should Report a Fender Bender to Insurance
Most insurance policies require drivers to report accidents.
You might decide to file a claim later, since property damage or injuries might turn out to be more serious than they appear.
The other driver may seem agreeable at the scene of the accident, but they might decide later to dispute fault or file a claim against you.
Yes, you can file an insurance claim with no police report after a car accident. Having a police report is helpful and can simplify the claims process, but it’s not required to file or authorize a claim. Whether or not you are legally required to file a police report depends on your state’s laws, however.… read full answer
In most states, you are required by law to file a police report if anyone is injured. You may also have to file a police report if property damage exceeds a certain amount, but the exact number varies greatly by state.
When You Don't Have to File a Police Report
You don’t have to call the police after an accident if no one was hurt, the damage was minor, and everyone involved is licensed, insured, and cooperative. In fact, the police can’t and won’t come to the scene of every accident. For example, you only need to contact the police after a minor fender bender if the other driver is uncooperative, uninsured, or intoxicated.
If you don’t file a police report right after a car accident, at least make sure to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, and photograph the damage to both vehicles as well as the full scene of the accident. Write down the date, time, and location of the accident, too, along with the weather and road conditions and a description of the vehicles involved.
You can always take this information to a police station to file an incident report if the police don’t come to the scene.
What happens if there is no police report for a car accident?
When a claim is filed after an accident, insurers want to know who was at fault so they can decide whose insurance will cover the damage. A police report is a detailed and official account of the accident that includes whether anyone was cited, eyewitness accounts, the officer’s opinion of how it happened, and any on-the-scene evidence – like the length of skid marks or the position of the wreckage on the road.
These details are useful when making an insurance claim, and a police report can make the process faster and easier. But not having one won’t bar you from being able to file a claim or lawsuit.
Reporting an Accident vs. Filing a Claim
Whether you decide to file a police report or not, it’s always in your best interest to report a car accident involving another driver to your insurance company. Making a report is not the same thing as filing a claim. Most insurance companies require you to report an accident as soon as possible, and failing to do so could give them an easy reason to deny your claim. The only time it is OK to skip reporting an accident to insurance is if it happens in your car, no one is injured, and only your own property is damaged.
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