Should I Report My Accident to the Insurance Company?

by Chris Joseph, Demand Media
    Consider several factors when determining whether to file an insurance claim.

    Consider several factors when determining whether to file an insurance claim.

    If you're involved in a traffic accident, particularly a minor one, you might be tempted not to report it to your insurance company. If the accident is not your fault, the other driver may even offer to settle the issue without insurance company involvement. However, for your own protection, it is best to report an accident to your insurer in most cases.

    Single-Vehicle Accident

    Supposed you are carrying no passengers and are involved in a single-vehicle accident where you are uninjured and cause no damage other than to your own vehicle. If the damage is slight, you can elect not to report it and pay for the damages yourself. If you carry collision coverage with a relatively high deductible or don't carry collision at all, you'll end up having to pay most or all of the cost anyway. To make matters worse, your insurance company may be choose to raise your premium.

    Multiple Vehicles

    If there is more than one vehicle involved in the accident, it's a good idea to report it to your insurer, even if you believe you were not at fault and the other driver offers to pay for damages. It's possible that the other driver can tell a completely different story to her insurance company. Additionally, some types of injuries, particularly whiplash from a rear-end collision, may not cause symptoms until later. Insurance companies typically place time limitations on reporting an accident, so a delay could leave you without coverage.

    Calling Your Insurer

    When involved in an accident, after checking to see whether anyone needs medical attention and calling for help if necessary, you should gather as much information as possible about the accident scene. After you've gathered the information, call your insurance company directly from the scene if you're able. The sooner you initiate the claims process, the more quickly you can receive the money needed to repair your vehicle. You'll also be able to relate key accident details while they're still fresh in your mind.

    Necessary Information

    While at the scene, obtain the name of the other driver involved, the make and model of his vehicle, the license plate number and insurance information. Make notes about the time of day, road and weather conditions and the location of the accident. If the police were involved, get the name and badge number of the officer at the scene, as well as the name of the jurisdiction he represents. If there were witnesses that can support your version of events, ask them for their names and phone numbers.

    About the Author

    Chris Joseph writes for newspapers and online publications, covering business, technology, health, fitness and sports. He holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from York College of Pennsylvania.

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