Getting into a car accident brings on a whirlwind of emotions, problems, and questions. One of the biggest is, how much is the damage and who will pay for it?
Knowing when to contact your insurance company and what kind of information to record is crucial because it affects your premium, your claim history, and the cost of repairs and medical costs.
If you get into a car accident, don’t panic. We’re here to help you figure out what to do next.
When to call your insurance company
Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you want to call your insurance company or not. But it’s in your best interest to play it safe and contact your insurance company when multiple parties are involved and you are at fault. Everyone should exchange information and contact their insurers to inform them of the accident.
If both parties decide to use insurance in either situation, make sure you get all their insurance information. This includes their name, address, phone number, insurance company, driver’s license number, and license plate number.
From there, all communication will happen between the two insurance companies.
Should I file a claim with my auto insurance or theirs?
If you’ve been hit by a driver and you’re not at fault, you will still only file a claim with your insurance company. You don’t need to claim on the other driver’s insurance.
In certain cases, the other insurance company may call you to record your version of the accident, but there’s no requirement for you to contact the other person or their insurance company.
Should I claim on my insurance?
It’s best practice to call your insurance company and file a claim when you’ve been hit by another car and the damage is severe, or you’re at fault in an accident. However, filing a claim will almost certainly increase your premium.
If no other party is involved, you can file a claim on your insurance. For example, you can file a claim if you find nicks or scratches on your glass. These comprehensive claims will have minimal impact on your overall premium. However, lots of comprehensive claims will affect your rate.
If you are considering filing over a comprehensive claim, it’s best that you do your research about the cost of repairs before calling your insurance company. It might make more sense for you to pay for the repairs out of pocket rather than risk your premiums being raised.
When you shouldn’t call your insurance company
There are times when you should consider not contacting your insurance company.
Sometimes, it’s beneficial for both parties to agree to leave the insurance companies out of it regardless of who’s at fault. In cases where the damage is minimal or only your car is damaged, you can choose to fix it yourself. This way, nobody’s premium increases.
What happens when the other driver is uninsured
If the driver is at fault and uninsured, you should always call your insurance company. Your insurance company will pay 100 percent of the cost and you will only pay your deductible unless you have uninsured motorist property damage.
You should also call the police at the scene because the other driver will get a ticket for driving without insurance. The other driver not having insurance helps your case when talking to the insurance company.
It is possible to file a civil suit against the other driver if you were driving an older car and only had liability insurance. It’s most likely that you would win, but the chances of you collecting money are very slim.
What living in a no-fault state means for you
There are 12 states where accidents are automatically no-fault. These are Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah. That means both drivers have to call their insurance companies if they want to file a claim.
However, Michigan is the only state that is a true no-fault state. That means that insurance companies don’t take fault into consideration at all. On the other hand, Pennsylvania takes into consideration the percentage of fault for each person. They will look at the percentage of what you contributed to the accident.
How being hit can affect your car insurance
It’s not unheard of for an insurance company to raise your rates even if the accident isn’t your fault. Some insurers believe if you’re involved in an accident once, you’re likely to be involved in one again.
Former property/casualty insurance agent R.J. Weiss of The Ways to Wealth said insurance companies are legally allowed to increase your rates if you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault.
“Insurance companies may view a no-fault accident differently depending on the data they have and your driving record,” he said.
This varies from insurer to insurer, with some being more lenient than others. If your insurance company hits you with a huge penalty, it might be time to switch providers.
Remember, you don’t have to file a claim with your car insurance company if you’re afraid they’ll raise your rates. You can pay for the repairs yourself and only fix what’s necessary.
Keeping on top of things
Be sure to keep all relevant paperwork and correspondence related to the accident. If you’re waiting to be reimbursed from the insurance company, don’t forget to hound them regularly. Getting to the bottom of this may take weeks or even months.
If your rates end up going up after the accident, you can consider switching car insurance companies to find a better deal. It’s good to shop around especially if it will help you save money.