Car accidents happen every day, and when they happen to you, you should know who to call. Of course you should first call for an ambulance or medical attention if someone is hurt. The next two calls should be to report the accident to the police and your auto insurance company.
After all of those calls are made, you can call a family member or friend to let them know what happened. In all accident cases, whether they are just a minor fender bender or they are much more serious, you absolutely should get the police and your car insurance company involved.
Even if the accident was not your fault, it is the best practice to be proactive and report the accident to both the police and your auto insurance carrier.
Call the police and get an accident report
When an officer comes out to the scene of an accident, he or she will prepare an official report that details the circumstances of the accident. It will include basic information such as the time, location and cause of the accident. Both parties will be given a chance to tell their side of the story and the officer will decide if one party or the other violated a traffic law.
Having documentation that comes from an official and impartial third party, can support a claim that you file with your car insurance company. It can also stop the other party from claiming that you were at fault when the officer does an assessment of the accident scene.
Call your auto insurance agent and report the accident
Once you make the call and report an accident to your car insurance company, a claim can be filed. You may need to get your car towed to a body shop and you may need to rent a car.
Once made aware of the accident, your car insurance carrier can get involved in the case. They can send someone out to look at your car and write an estimate so you will have money to repair your vehicle.
Informing your auto insurance company gives you a chance to give your version of how the accident occurred. If you check your auto policy, you will see that when you signed for coverage, you were also agreeing to report all accidents. It will not look good if you do not report an accident and your insurance company finds out about the accident from the police or the other party’s insurance carrier.
You can be nice, but don’t be stupid
It happens all of the time. Someone runs into you and either has no insurance or does not want to go through insurance because it will raise their rates. Despite your good nature, you should tell them you are sorry and must report the accident to your car insurance company.
If they say “please don’t report this and that they will pay for your repairs,” politely decline the offer. You do not know that person and you do not know if their word is good.
Insurance is there to protect you. A small scratch or a little dent can cost hundreds, or even thousands of dollars to fix. Don’t bear the risk of having to go into your own pocket to have your car fixed.
Do the right thing, be responsible and report any accident to both the police and your insurance company. Whether or not it is your fault does not matter. When you get the proper people involved, your case almost always goes better.
Written by Steve Whiley, a writer for American Auto Insurance.