Many people don’t know what to do when they get in an auto accident. It’s understandable, especially considering it can be a very emotional time for both drivers involved. Maybe both of you were in a rush to leave, especially if the accident wasn’t very major.
What are you supposed to do if the only information you have of the other driver is their auto insurance policy number?
First, it’s important to know what information you should ideally get if you are involved in an accident. Assuming the other person is fully cooperating, it’s best to obtain:
- The person’s full name
- At least 1, if not 2 phone numbers
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle information
- License plate number
- Insurance information, including
- Name of the company
- Contact information of the company
- Policy number
If you have your phone with you (who doesn’t these days!), then you could ask for permission to take a picture of the other person’s driver’s license and insurance card. At least write as much of this information down as you can.
It’s always a great idea to get the police involved, even in minor accidents. The police will look up the other person’s information and file a police report. You can give the police report number to your insurance company, and they will be able to see all the information relating to the accident and drivers involved.
Just the Policy Number
That is what would happen in an ideal scenario. But if you’ve already had the claim and a policy number is all you have, it’s not impossible to find out who the driver is and proceed with the claim. Difficult, but not impossible.
Every auto insurance company has a different structure for numbering their auto policies. And there isn’t an encyclopedia of insurance numbers out there, which means unless your hobby is memorizing policy numbers, it will be impossible to learn every company’s structure.
The first thing that you can try is to see if the other policy number looks exactly like yours. For example, if you have an 8-digit number and are insured with Progressive, and the other driver has an 8 digit policy number, chances are pretty good that they are also with Progressive.
Not all auto policies are just numbers. Many are prefaced with one or two letters, such as Safeco (K1111111) or Liberty Mutual (AOX-111-111111-1111).
There isn’t a standard type of auto insurance policy number. They can be any combination of numbers and digits, with some letters thrown in as well.
You can try to call your insurance company and ask them if they know. If you’re with a direct carrier with a call center, your chances are pretty slim that anyone will be able to help you.
If you’re with an independent insurance agent, then read on!
If the two policy numbers don’t match and your own insurance company can’t help, your best place to go next is a local independent insurance agent. Independent agents represent many companies, oftentimes more than 10, and have experience working with competing companies.
There is a good chance that the independent agent will be able to recognize the company. If they do, then you can inform your insurance company and proceed with the claim.
If an independent agent can’t identify the policy number, then you could try to call a few insurance companies directly and ask them. This approach likely won’t result in any success, since you are blindly picking companies. You could at least try the 5 or 10 largest auto insurers in the country.
If this still didn’t work, then it’s worth a shot to go to the local DMV and see if they can help you. Due to privacy laws, it’s all but certain that they will not give you any information, but it’s worth a shot if all else has failed.
Gather the Information First
Hopefully you’re able to identify the company with just the policy number and proceed with your claim. But the best thing to do is to prevent this situation from happening in the future.
When involved in an accident, always be sure to gather as much information from the other driver as you can!