You should always call your insurance company if you get into an accident involving another driver whether you are at fault or not, especially if the accident caused injuries or property damage. Even if you are not at fault, you may still want to use coverage from your insurance policy, like collision or medical payments coverage. If you want to file a claim, you’ll be required to notify your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident.
Your insurance company can also help you work with the at-fault driver’s insurer. They will assist with investigating the claim and establishing fault, and they can defend you if the other driver tries to file a claim against you. In most states, not-at-fault claims are filed with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, which makes it less likely your rates will go up. If you have to file a claim against your own policy, it’s more likely your rates will increase. But it is possible that your insurance company gets reimbursed for the cost of your claim and decides not to raise your rate.
It’s common for insurance companies to raise rates even if the accident is not your fault, especially if you live in one of the 12 no-fault states. Drivers in no-fault states file claims with their own insurance company no matter who is at fault, and they almost always see premiums go up after an accident. The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) found that at least four of the nation’s largest insurers increased rates after a not-at-fault claim.
A waiver of subrogation is a legal clause that prevents an insurance company from recovering the money they paid on a claim from the responsible party’s insurer. In car insurance, a waiver of subrogation usually keeps the not-at-fault driver’s insurer from recouping claims payments from an at-fault driver.
Say Driver B ran a red light and hit you when you were driving legally. You need your car repaired soon, but Driver B won’t admit fault, so you file a collision claim with your own insurance company and pay your deductible.
Then, your insurer begins the process of subrogation, negotiating with Driver B’s insurance company to try to replace the money it paid for your claim. You will even get your deductible back if subrogation is successful.
However, Driver B may offer to pay a set sum for the damage if you agree to sign a waiver of subrogation. Signing this waiver would mean forfeiting your right to get any more money from Driver B or his insurance company, regardless of any expenses from the accident that might arise in the future.
If you’re at fault in a car accident, your liability insurance pays for the other driver’s car repairs and will likely cover any doctor’s bills if they’re injured. No-fault states are the exception, as they require each driver to use their own insurance to pay for medical expenses after an accident. But regardless of the state, fault always dictates whose liability insurance pays for property damage.… read full answer
Your liability insurance never covers your own expenses, so you will need collision insurance, personal injury protection (PIP), or MedPay in order to avoid paying out of pocket for an at-fault accident. Some states require drivers to have PIP or MedPay, while collision insurance is usually required if you are leasing or financing your car.
After an at-fault accident, car insurance rates go up by an average of 48%. The exact amount that your premium will go up depends on a few factors, including your state and how much damage you caused. But any increase is only temporary, usually lasting about 3-5 years. And if you have accident forgiveness with your insurance company, your rates might not go up at all.
Ultimately, no one wants to be at-fault in a car accident, but it’s important to understand how at-fault accidents work just in case. With that in mind, here’s a quick summary of what you really need to know.
Here’s What Happens If You Are At-Fault in a Car Accident
Your liability insurance should pay for the other driver’s expenses.
You will need to use other types of car insurance to cover your own repair and medical bills.
Your car insurance rates will go up by an average of 48% for 3-5 years.
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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