Every day people are involved in car accidents. As devastating as it may be, it is important to remain calm. Knowing how long you have to report an accident is a must in order to avoid more problems.
What to do after an accident
Check to see if anyone is injured and call an ambulance if there is any doubt. If at all possible, move your automobile off of the main road and out of the way of traffic. Turn the hazard lights on in your vehicle and place cones or warning triangles in strategic places. Even if it is a minor accident, call the police.
Get the following information from the other driver: the make, year, model, color and license plate number of the car; the name of the insurance company and the policy number; and the person's name, address, driver's license number and phone number. Make a note of the exact location of the accident. If there were witnesses to the accident, get their name and phone number. Report the accident to your insurance company.
When to report an accident
The smartest thing is to report your accident to your insurance company as quickly as possible. Auto insurance companies vary in their requirements, but most of them allow 30 days. Drivers should know their state's and their insurance company's requirements.
If the driver has no collision coverage and no one in his or her car was injured, there is no need to report the accident. If you do report it, the insurance company will mark it as being for report purposes only, because there is no possibility of a claim. Even if you have never reported an earlier accident, you can still call and make a claim.
The adjuster will decide if the claim is valid according to the state laws. Each state has a statute of limitations that gives the time frame in which a person can file a claim for an accident. The time is different for different states. Regardless of the time frame of the statute, it is important to file a claim as soon as possible after an accident.
Even if you are at fault, do not admit fault. That is the responsibility of the insurance company. Sometimes the law enforcement officers who come to the scene of the accident can determine fault by talking to those involved in the accident and to any witnesses. This makes the claims process go considerably faster.
The effects of an accident on your car insurance
The first thing an insurance company looks at is who was at fault. The driver's insurance premiums will most likely increase if he or she was at fault. He or she will lose a good-driver discount, which will cause the premiums to go up. In this case, drivers should get quotes from other insurance companies to see if they can get a cheaper insurance policy.
If any traffic laws were broken when the accident took place, the driver who broke them will most likely be at fault and may receive a traffic violation, too. With both of these, the driver will be classified as a riskier driver to insure. This may mean he or she will have to obtain high-risk auto insurance. Because of this, safe driving and driving defensively are extremely important.