How Does Car Insurance Work After an Accident
After having been involved in a traffic mishap many people wonder just how does car insurance work after an accident? There really isn’t a simple answer to that because it depends on several things. First of all, no two accidents are ever the same so consequently each accident would need to be dealt with on an individual basis in order to answer that question more accurately. Perhaps the following information might give you a better idea of what to do after an accident, but remember to keep in mind that much of this information is generic and your accident may have extenuating circumstances.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Whether or not you are at fault it is always your obligation to notify your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. This is in your best interest on several levels. First and foremost, even if the other driver is found to be at fault and is able to produce ‘proof of insurance,’ it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other driver’s insurance is up to date. Also, many less than reputable insurance companies act in bad faith and refuse to pay claims that are valid. At this point, if you carry collision and med pay (if there are injuries in your vehicle) you can always choose to file through your company and when all is settled your company will subrogate (get back any money) the other insurance company.
Your Responsibilities – Read the Fine Print
Besides, if you read the fine print on your policy you will clearly see that it is your responsibility to report any and all accidents no matter how minor to your insurance company. If you do not and your insurance company gets wind of the accident they have grounds to cancel your policy. Bear in mind that your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurer. By not meeting the stipulations in the contract you are, for all intents and purposes, voiding that contract.
Insurance Rates after an Accident
Perhaps this is the number on reason why so many drivers fail to notify their insurance companies of accidents that are either no their fault or too small to really make a claim on. One thing to be aware of is the fact that every time a police officer is called to the scene of an accident there is a report made. When it comes time to renew your insurance your company will run your driving record again. It may not result in loss of insurance coverages, but there is every probability that those small accidents that you wanted to sweep under the rug will come back to bite you in the face in the form of higher premiums.
Once you have reported your claim and chosen whether to go through your own company to have repairs made or the claimant’s company to have your vehicle repaired, the first step is to make an appointment to get your vehicle inspected. Although you are free to get as many independent inspections as you would like, the one thing to realize is that the company you file through has the last say on how much those damages are worth. So then, if you choose to file through your company to have the damages repaired you would see one of their auto adjusters and vice versa.
Bodily Injury / Medical Payments
Bodily Injury is 2nd party coverage and always refers to injuries in the ‘other vehicle’ than the one at fault. In other words, if you are not at fault and there are injuries in your vehicle you would file under the other insurance policy’s bodily injury coverage. On the other hand, say you are not at fault but there are injuries in your car and you are filing through your own insurance company. If you carry med-pay (medical payments) you could file medical bills under your own policy for anyone injured in your vehicle and your insurance company would subrogate that money back from the at fault provider.
This information is just the tip of the iceberg as to what happens after an accident. Much of this will fall into place if you do the right thing and contact the claims department of your insurance company after an accident. At that time they will give you advice on your options for filing but remember, the choice is usually in your hands. Yes, your premiums may go up accordingly, especially if you are found to be at fault but if you don’t report the accident the worst could happen and that would be cancellation of your policy.