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UPDATED: Dec 13, 2017
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Being involved in a car accident is always stressful, and it can be even more upsetting when you’re responsible for the collision. Even if other parties were not involved, you may still have damage to your own car.
Don’t get stuck not having the coverage you need for your vehicles when you really need it. Compare car insurance quotes today and find the policy that’s right for you.
Knowing what steps to take afterward can help you get through the process with minimal stress and frustration.
Silence is Golden Initially
Right after an accident, you may be feeling like it’s all your fault. But the truth is that you probably don’t have all the facts yet.
As information comes in from other parties, you may discover that it wasn’t your fault after all.
- Answer questions asked by police honestly and to the best of your ability
- Do not speculate on how the accident happened
- Do not engage anyone in discussions regarding fault
- Avoid saying the words, “I’m sorry,” or anything else that may be construed as an admission of fault
As the insurance companies and police investigate the accident, the fault will be determined. By staying silent initially, you can let the authorities do their work without taking the blame for something that you may not have caused.
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Contact the Insurance Company
Whether you caused the accident or not, your insurance company should know about it. You don’t need to call them from the scene of the accident, but you should still reach out to your agent within a day or two of the collision.
Ideally, you should contact the company when you’re calm and away from the accident scene. You’ll need to give your agent some basic information, including:
- Date and time of the accident
- Details on weather conditions and traffic
- What you remember about the accident, including speed, location of parties involved, direction of travel, and who collided with whom
- Any pictures you took of the accident scene and other parties involved
- Reports of any injuries you sustained
- Information about damaged property
- Contact information for any witnesses
Regardless of your feelings about the accident, your insurance company will review the information to see if their determination of fault concurs with the authorities.
If you’re liable, then you’ll be contacted by your company. If another driver is at fault, then you can reach out to his or her insurance company about a settlement.
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One-Car Accident and You’re At Fault
There are times when an accident is clearly your own fault. Often, the only damage will be to your own vehicle or property. This includes sliding on ice and hitting a mailbox or accidentally backing into another car in your own driveway.
When you cause an accident and you’re the only one with damage, deciding whether or not to call the insurance company can be tricky.
— Collision Insurance Required
Whether another driver is involved or not, your insurance company will only cover your damages if you have collision coverage. This level of protection is no-fault, and it’s designed to cover the damage to your car after an accident.
Collision insurance will cost more than liability only, although it’s more affordable than full-coverage plans that include comprehensive. You can save money by shopping around and looking at other companies.
Comparison sites make it easy by allowing you to enter the information once and then receive quotes from several companies.
— When Comprehensive is Necessary
Not all accidents occur when the car is moving. It’s also possible for damage to befall your car when it’s parked. Examples would be storm damage, vandalism, theft, and fire.
If your car is sitting in the driveway when a tree falls on it, you’re going to need some help dealing with the aftermath. However, your insurance company will only assist you if you’ve invested in a comprehensive plan.
This is the most expensive insurance, but it’s also the most thorough. As the name implies, it covers just about everything. If your car was parked at the time of the accident, then you can talk to your agent about a comprehensive plan to recoup some or all of your losses.
Is it worth filing the claim?
When you file a claim and the insurance company pays out, you run the risk that the company will increase your premiums. This doesn’t always happen, but it’s still a valid concern.
This is why it’s important to weigh the benefits of a claim against the potential risks. Here are some pointers to help you make the final decision.
— Accidents Involving Other Parties Should be Reported
People like to work things out among themselves, but insurance companies report that this seldom works. If you don’t get your company involved, then you run the risk that the other party may file a false claim regarding damages.
There’s also the chance that the damages are more extensive and costly than you initially thought, and you may need the insurance companies assistance with the payout.
For instance, research shows that even when the visible damage is slight, the actual repairs can still cost thousands of dollars. Even low-impact accidents can produce thousands of dollars in damage, and that’s far higher than the $500 deductible that you may have currently.
— Compare the Damage to the Deductible
Most body shops offer free estimates, so you can have the car assessed to determine what your out-of-pocket expenses will be.
If it’s less than your deductible, then you should not notify the company at all; just pay for the damages and avoid having the information on record with your provider.
On the other hand, if the damage is substantially higher, then a claim may be in order. You can ask your company about accident forgiveness if you have a clean record and this is your first claim.
In the event that your insurance company does raise your rates, then you can always look around for a new provider. When shopping for different companies, you may want to ask about accident forgiveness or vanishing deductibles programs.
When the damage is close to the amount of your deductible, then it’s harder to know what to do. Even your agent cannot tell you exactly what the premium difference will be, although they can give you a general idea.
Remember that the deductible will be subtracted from the final payout, and then ask yourself if the difference is worth filing a claim.
If your insurance company raised your rates because you caused an accident, then it may be worth your time to shop around. See if another company can lower your premiums while still providing you with the top-notch coverage you expect.