Yes. Regardless of fault, it is important to call your insurance company and report any accident that involved injuries or property damage.
A common myth is that you do not need to contact your insurance company if you were not at fault. This is false, because there are several coverages on your insurance policy that you may want to use. So if you’re wondering what to do after a car accident that is not your fault, let me remind you that in order to use any of these coverages, you must notify your insurance company.
Reasons You Should Call Your Insurance Company After An Accident
Collision Insurance Coverage
The first type of insurance coverage you may want to use is called collision coverage. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company is slow to accept responsibility for the accident, then you may want to get your car repaired or replaced under the collision coverage of your own insurance policy. Then, it is up to your insurance company to seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurance.
To use this coverage, you must promptly notify your insurance company of the accident. Otherwise, you might have to pay for repairs out of your own pocket, and then negotiate your property damage settlement with the at-fault driver’s liability carrier, which could take months.
In addition, while you are waiting for the liability carrier to accept responsibility, you may have storage charges accruing while your car is sitting wherever it has been towed.
Towing Insurance Coverage
The second coverage you may want to use is towing insurance. Again, this will pay the cost of your vehicle being towed upfront. Then, your insurance company will seek to be paid back by the other person’s insurance. Without towing insurance coverage, which you may not access unless you notify your insurance company of the car accident, you may have to pay the towing charge while you wait for the other person’s insurance to accept responsibility.
Under both collision coverage and towing insurance, if your insurance provider is able to recover the money they paid from the at-fault driver’s company, then neither of these claims will affect your insurance rates.
Medical Expense Insurance Coverage (“Med Pay”)
Third, you may want to use any medical payments or medical expense coverage you may have on your policy. This coverage will pay any medical expenses you have as a result of the accident, regardless of who is at fault and regardless of any other insurance.
Under Virginia law, if you make a claim for medical expense insurance coverage, the insurance company cannot raise your rates.
Your insurance company can defend you
Fourth, and perhaps the most important reason to contact your insurance company after an accident, the other driver may claim that you are at fault and pursue a claim against you. Even if you know you are not at fault, you do not want to have to pay the cost of defending yourself.
Under the terms of your insurance policy, your insurance company is required to provide a defense to you – free of charge – if a claim is brought against you.
Notify Your Insurance Company
To have the benefit of any of these coverages on your policy, you are required to report the accident to your insurance company. You must do this within a reasonable amount of time. If you do not, your insurance company is permitted to deny coverage.
Do not fall into the trap of believing that notification is not necessary because the at-fault party should pay your claim.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (“UM/UIM”) coverage
There is a type of insurance coverage available to you through your own insurance carrier that does not require you to notify your insurance company of an accident within a reasonable amount of time. This type of insurance coverage is called Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (“UM/UIM”) coverage. If the at-fault driver in your accident either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover your loss, then this type of coverage may provide a source of payment.
Calling Your Insurance Provider After an Accident
Although you should promptly notify your carrier of the accident, you should be careful what you say when you call. Tell them that you were involved in an accident and give them general background information, including the date, time, location of the accident, and names and addresses of all parties involved.
But it is best not to discuss the issue of fault until you have consulted with an attorney. Politely decline to give a recorded statement until you feel better.
In sum, it is important to report any accident to your insurance company promptly in order to avoid giving your insurance company a basis for denying coverage that may otherwise be available to you, but it is equally important not to discuss the issue of fault with anyone until after you have sought the advice of an attorney.
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