You may have heard that you need to report an accident to your insurance company regardless of who caused the accident—but do you really have to report it? If you do not plan to use your insurance to cover any of the bills associated with a serious accident, do you need to contact them?
When should you get in touch with your insurance company?
You may have any number of questions about how to deal with your insurance company following a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, and in many cases, you may not know what to do first. Take a look at some of the answers to those key questions.
Do I Have to Notify My Insurance Company About an Accident?
Your insurance company always needs to know that you had an accident in a vehicle covered by that insurer.
You may need to notify your insurance carrier if even a slim possibility exists that someone will file a claim against you for the accident.
Often, after a car accident, the liable party may attempt to dispute liability. If the liable party can prove that you caused or contributed to the auto accident, your insurance company may have to pay out for a percentage of the repairs. To facilitate the process as much as possible, your insurance company may need to know the details of the accident, including the time and place where it happened, the people involved, and any information about how the accident occurred.
Your insurance company will not take action on a claim before talking to you, particularly in cases of disputed liability. However, making sure your insurance company knows the details of the accident can help you avoid problems down the line.
If you know that you caused or contributed to the accident, you may need to notify your insurance carrier about those details. However, if you plan to dispute liability, know that you did not cause the accident, or have not yet spoken to an attorney, do not get in touch with your insurance company yet! Instead, talk to an attorney about your legal rights, including who may bear liability for your auto accident.
You will need to notify your insurance carrier if you plan to use your insurance to take care of any portion of the claim.
Even if you did not cause the accident, in some cases, you may need to use your auto insurance to pay for some of the damages that occurred during the accident.
You plan to use your PIP insurance to help pay the initial cost of your medical bills.
In some states, including Texas, drivers either a) must carry or b) have the option to carry Personal Injury Protection insurance, which will help cover the initial medical expenses caused by a car accident. Medical bills can prove extremely costly, so many drivers choose to carry PIP insurance. PIP coverage kicks in regardless of who caused the accident, which means you do not have to worry about cases of disputed liability or even cases in which you may have caused the accident.
Letting your insurance company know that you need to use those benefits can help streamline your claim—not to mention helping you get more information about what coverage you may need to claim. For example, PIP coverage may cover things like lost wages, which can leave you under a substantial financial burden. You may need to contact your insurance provider to take advantage of that coverage.
Keep in mind, however, that you may not want to contact your insurance provider directly. In some cases, you may want to have your attorney submit that claim and information for you to help ensure that you can easily access all the benefits you deserve.
You need to use MedPay to cover medical expenses.
MedPay, used in states like Louisiana, covers only medical expenses following a car accident, and may not offer as much protection as your personal injury protection coverage. If you need to use your MedPay benefits, you may need to let your insurance provider know about your intent to use those benefits, the extent of your injuries, and any other details about your accident.
Once again, however, you may not want to have that conversation with your insurance provider directly. An experienced car accident attorney can help you learn more about the full benefits you deserve and how to access them after your car accident.
The person that caused your accident does not carry insurance.
An estimated 20 percent of Texas drivers do not carry auto insurance. That means that if you get into an accident, you have approximately a 1 in 5 chance of it involving a driver who simply chooses not to carry auto insurance. In Louisiana, that number drops to around 11.7 percent of drivers—which still means a substantial chance that a driver without insurance may have caused your accident.
Fortunately, most drivers who do carry auto insurance have uninsured motorist riders on their policies. Those riders kick in when the driver that causes an accident does not carry insurance at all—and can provide vital protection in the event of a severe accident.
If you need to use your uninsured motorist coverage after an accident, contact an attorney to learn more about exactly what coverage your insurance company should offer, including how to get the full value for your vehicle and whether you can expect coverage for any injuries you sustained in your accident beyond the coverage offered by PIP or MedPay coverage.
The party that caused your accident carries inadequate insurance.
Minimum auto insurance often does not include the coverage necessary to fully replace a damaged vehicle or to cover all the expenses associated with an accident. If you carry underinsured motorist coverage, however, your insurance may kick in and provide for some of those costs!
A personal injury lawyer can help go over the terms of the insurance policy and give you a better idea of how much compensation you can expect through your insurance company when the other driver’s insurance company does not offer adequate protection.
When Should I Talk to My Insurance Carrier?
Often, after an accident, you may not want to talk to your insurance carrier directly. Instead, get in touch with a car accident attorney, then let the attorney take care of those communications for you.
You must report the accident to your insurance carrier within a reasonable timeframe.
Sometimes, your policy may specifically lay out how long you have to report an accident or respond to an accident report issued by another driver. Other times, it may simply say that you need to notify the insurance provider within a “reasonable timeframe.” Of course, the definition of “reasonable timeframe” can vary!
You may want to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible—but not before talking to an attorney.
Before you contact your insurance company, try to make an appointment to sit down with an experienced personal injury attorney for a free consultation. An attorney can help ensure that you understand your rights, know how much compensation you should expect, and have a good idea of what type of coverage you should expect when dealing with your insurance company.
An attorney can help break down the compensation you should expect for serious injuries, which may make it easier for you to avoid accepting a settlement offer that does not accurately reflect the compensation you deserve for your injuries and the damage to your vehicle.
However, you still want to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Do not drag your feet when it comes to contacting an attorney and getting the necessary information in front of your insurance agent. The longer you wait to report your accident, the longer it may take to receive compensation for your injuries and your vehicle. The claim process can quickly turn long and complicated even if you report the accident immediately—and the longer you wait, the more difficult it can prove to find vital evidence regarding the accident.
Do I Have to Notify the Insurance Company Myself?
If you know that you will have to deal with your insurance company over an accident yourself, you probably should not contact your insurance company on your own. Instead, let a lawyer do it for you!
An experienced personal injury attorney knows your rights, understands the compensation you really deserve for your injuries and will help fight for you. Furthermore, a car accident attorney can help avoid any slips and mistakes that could limit the compensation you can recover after your accident.