Many people think that if they’re in a minor car accident—a fender bender with no injuries or minor ones—their insurance company doesn’t need to know and they can just take care of it on their own. This is a very bad idea and can lead to much worse problems down the road, from high injury claims to the loss of your insurance coverage.
It’s imperative to keep your insurer informed whenever you have an accident, especially if there’s any chance of a lawsuit arising. Read why whenever you’re in an auto accident, especially with injuries, you should call your insurance company, and how a car accident lawyer can help.
But the Accident Was Minor!
Even if your accident was very minor, you should always let your insurance company know. Often, injuries may not present until a few days after an accident, or someone at first says they’re not interested in a lawsuit, and then changes their minds. The last thing you want is for a lawsuit to come out of nowhere, leaving you out in the cold because you didn’t let your insurer know that an accident even happened.
When Should I Call?
You should notify your insurer as soon as possible any time you’re in an accident. With most insurance companies you’ll typically have 72 hours in which to notify them, as individual policies may have individual clauses with different rules. Any time there’s any injury, property damage, or potential for a lawsuit, no matter how small, you should let them know.
Not letting your insurance company know that you were in an accident could lead to them denying you coverage for the incident, raising your rates very high, or even dropping you all together for failing to abide by the agreement.
What Should I Say?
Be honest, clear and straightforward. Explain the details of the accident as they happened. Don’t embellish, try to spin them or leave anything out. You want to be as accurate as possible just in case there’s a lawsuit and you have to back up your claim. Also, keep it simple, so you don’t forget something you said later and find yourself backtracking.
In short: tell the truth, as much without bias as possible.
If the Other Company Calls
You may get a call from the other party’s insurance company. If this happens, never volunteer any information. You’re also within your rights to refer them to your attorney. They are probably looking for reasons to invalidate any claim you have, so anything you say could come back to haunt you. Also, never, ever sign anything they put in front of you without advice from your attorney.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer
It never hurts to speak with a car accident lawyer after you’ve been in an accident. Most good attorneys won’t charge you for a consultation, and if there’s a case, they don’t charge you unless you win the case and make money. They are also experienced at standing up to insurance companies who can seem like bullies in their efforts to get out of paying claims.