“Hey, you know, this doesn’t look so bad, let’s just keep it between us. Get your car fixed, send me the bill and I’ll take care of it.”
While this might seem smart after a minor fender bender, you just handed the other person a check with your signature on it and no dollar amount filled in. hey can subsequently claim whatever amount they deem reasonable, and you’ll be on the hook to pay, lest they report you to your insurance company.
And, this is just one of the reasons you should always report accidents to your insurance company.
Subsequent Injuries Can Appear
The symptoms of an injury from an auto accident are not always apparent right after they occur. Your adrenalin is up; you’re excited, maybe even in shock, so you aren’t the best judge of your physiology at that moment. Your body could be protecting you from the pain. You could then wake up the next morning and your head won’t turn.
It’s bad enough if this happens to you, but if it happens to the other person, you could be on the hook for some insurmountable expenses stretching well into the foreseeable future. Of course, at that point, you’ll probably turn to your insurance company, which will be perfectly within its rights to deny your claim because you failed to report the accident right away.
The Other Person Could File A Claim
Upon taking their car in for repairs, that other person might blanche at the dollar figure quoted and report the accident just in case you flake.
As soon as they do so, their insurance company will track yours down and report the accident. Again, you’ll be in the position of having failed to report the incident and your insurer can take whatever action it deems appropriate in light of the circumstances.
Repairing Your Car Might Cost More Than You Think
We’ve seen cars totaled after what appeared to be minor fender benders. Body shop repair costs are significantly higher than they were in the past. Bumpers have all sorts of sensors and antennae in them now and many of the materials used to make cars lighter are exceptionally costly.
Failing to report the accident could put you in an awkward position if it turns out your vehicle is beyond economical repair and you need to lease or buy a car to replace it. After all, this will usually entail a major cash outlay and your insurance company could legally refuse to cover it.
The Rate Increase You’re Trying Avoid Might Not Happen
In nearly every case, the typical justification for not reporting an accident is to avoid paying more for insurance. Here’s the thing though, reporting an accident and filing a claim are two different things.
Making the report fulfills your contract with the insurance company, but that will be the end of it if you don’t file a claim too.
Meanwhile, if it turns out things are worse than they initially appeared to be, you did what you agreed to do when you accepted the policy. You might even have an accident forgiveness clause in your policy that would stave off a rate increase.
The Other Person Might Be Uninsured
Yes, the law in every state except Virginia and New Hampshire requires drivers to be insured. But hey, lots of people ignore the law. If you have the misfortune of getting into an accident with one of them, and your expenses turn out to be much higher than you anticipated, your insurer won’t have to help you at all — because you didn’t report the accident right away.
Are you seeing the continuous thread here?
You should always report accidents to your insurance company.
Well — unless the accident happens on your own property, involves no one else, no injuries and the resulting damage is minimal. Maybe you scraped a tree alongside your driveway as you were backing out one morning, or you accidentally bumped into your garage door.
Instances such as those do not necessarily bear reporting.
Everything else though; it’s best to err on the side of caution and file a report.