It’s natural to wonder if you need to report every accident to your insurance company. After all, not all accidents are severe. Maybe somebody hit your bumper. Maybe you inadvertently scraped your garage while pulling in. Does your insurance company really need to know about these incidents?
Are you worried about the impact of an accident on your insurance? Are you concerned that your deductible is more than the cost of repairs? Today, we’re explaining whether or not you should report every single accident to your insurance company.
Should You Report Minor Accidents?
So you’ve been in a minor accident. Maybe you hit somebody’s bumper in a parking lot. Maybe it’s a small accident with no apparent injuries to either party.
However, if the accident involves another driver – as about 7 in 10 accidents do – then you should contact your insurance company in all situations.
There are a few reasons to tell your insurer about every accident involving another driver or vehicle.
Sometimes, drivers might work out a private arrangement. However, this rarely works out for both parties. Scam artists might deliberately place their vehicle in a vulnerable position, for example, then demand cash from drivers. In other cases, another driver might agree to keep the incident “off the books” – only to later report the incident to the police or insurance company, which makes you look guilty of insurance fraud. By working with your insurance company, you can avoid becoming a victim of insurance fraud.
Another important thing to note is that even a minor fender bender can cause serious injuries to yourself or another driver. A low speed collision might not cause major damage to either vehicle. However, that might mean the damage is absorbed by your body instead of the vehicle. Even at speeds of 5mph or 10mph, a collision can cause severe, lifelong injuries on your body.
Furthermore, a minor accident might not look serious. However, even small damages can quickly add up. Those nicks, scrapes, and dents might look minor, but repairing them could cost several thousand dollars – which means it’s worth paying the $500 deductible.
Finally, small accidents can lead to serious injuries for other parties. If you bump against a van full of people in a parking lot, for example, then there may only be minor injuries in the other vehicle. However, the combined costs of medical treatment for the other driver and passengers can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.
You’re Legally Required to Report Some Accidents
Different states have different rules. However, in virtually all jurisdictions in the United States, you need to immediately report all accidents involving death or bodily injuries. You’ll need to report the incident to the local police, sheriff, or highway patrol.
Furthermore, if the injuries or property damage exceed a certain amount – typically around $1,000 – then the incident will need to be reported to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Failing to report an accident can result in penalties like a one year suspension or worse.
In general, you should report all accidents immediately to the local police. The police will make a report if necessary, but if it’s a minor accident with minimal damage or injuries, then it may not be necessary.
Even if you don’t intend to make a claim, you should report all accidents to your insurance company. Your insurance agent can help you decide if it’s in your best interest to make a claim – or if you’re better off paying out of pocket.
What About Single Vehicle Accidents? Should I Report Every Single Vehicle Accident?
If you’re in a single vehicle accident involving just your vehicle and/or property, then things can be less clear. In some states and with some insurance companies, a single one-vehicle accident might be forgiven – especially if you’re a long-time driver with a blemish-free driving record.
Nevertheless, many insurance companies will raise insurance rates significantly after a single vehicle accident. You’re deemed to be a greater risk than someone who has never been in an accident, so you’ll inevitably pay more for car insurance.
Here’s what it all boils down to:
The only time you should avoid reporting an accident is if it’s a low speed collision that causes minimal damage to your own vehicle or property. If the cost of repairing the damage is approximately the same as your insurance deductible, and nobody was injured in the accident, then you may want to avoid reporting the incident to your insurance company. In all other cases – especially when other people or vehicles are injured – then you should absolutely report the accident to your insurance company.
No, you don’t have to report every accident to your insurance company, but you should report most accidents.