If you’ve never been in a car accident before, it can be a little unnerving the first time it happens. There are some things you’ll need to keep in mind so you can work with your insurance company to resolve any claims. In this article, we’ll explain how auto insurance works after an accident.
What To Do When An Car Accident Happens
When you are in a car accident, it is very important that you follow these steps.
Get Help if Needed
If anyone has been hurt in the accident and needs medical attention, immediately call 911 for help.
Notify The Police
Many states have laws that require you to stop at the scene of any accident, no matter how minor. You should also move your vehicle to the side of the road to prevent any other damage or injuries.
If there is any property damage or injury, you will need to notify the local police. In most instances, they will come to the scene to complete an accident report before you can leave the scene.
You should ask for the police station’s phone number, the officer's badge number, their name, and the number of the police report. You are also able to obtain a copy of the police report if you request it.
If there are other vehicles involved in the accident, exchange information with all other drivers involved. Be sure to get their name, address, phone number, insurance company, their driver’s license number, and license plate number. If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, find out their relationship to the owner.
Also, taking pictures of the damage at the scene and a photo everyone present can help with documenting what happened.
Get Witness Information
If there are any witnesses that have seen the accident or offer any assistance, try to get their names and addresses. At a minimum, try to remember a description of their appearance to point out to police officers when they arrive.
Don’t admit fault
Keep in mind, you should not admit fault or say anything that can be presented as you admitting fault. Saying “I am sorry I hit you,” can be taken as admitting to fault. It is better if you feel the need to apologize to the other party to say something like, “I hope you are ok.”
How to File an Insurance Claim
After a car accident, it is important to contact your insurance company as soon as possible and file a claim if necessary. You may jeopardize your coverage if you wait too long to notify your insurer.
When you contact your insurance company, they will ask you to give them all the information you’ve collected from the scene of the accident including the date, time, and location of the accident, conditions like weather and speed, contact information on the other drivers, and a police report number if one is available.
The insurance company will assign an insurance adjuster to go over the coverages of your policy and determine what damages will be covered by your policy. The adjuster may investigate who was at fault in the accident and use that information to determine if your policy will make payments to other parties. If there is damage to your vehicle, your adjuster will guide you through the process of getting estimates for repairs and will go over any deductibles you may have to pay.
Your auto insurance policy will have a minimum amount of coverage for liability and property damage, usually set by local state law. If you are at fault in an accident, this is the type of coverage that will pay for injuries to any other party.
This type of coverage also covers any damages to the other vehicle or surrounding property at the site of the accident. You do not have to pay a deductible when you make a claim against this coverage.
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage
Collision coverage is an optional insurance coverage that will pay for damages to your vehicle regardless of who is at fault in an accident. If you have an older vehicle, you may choose not to carry this coverage. Yet, if you have a payment on your vehicle, your lender will likely require you to have collision insurance.
When you make a collision claim, you will have to pay a deductible, usually between $500-$1000.
Comprehensive coverage usually pays for damage to your vehicle for things like theft, vandalism, or weather damage. However, it also is the coverage that comes into play if you hit an animal like a deer while driving and there is damage to your car. There is also a deductible for this coverage, but it is often lower than the collision deductible.
Does car insurance cover non-accident repairs? Unfortunately, no. If there is pre-existing damage to your car before the accident, it will not be a covered repair in the accident claim, unless the damaged area is also involved in the accident.
Does Insurance Cover a Totaled Car
So, how does car insurance work if your car is totaled? If you carry collision coverage, you will be able to make a claim, even if your car is totaled. The insurance adjuster will also determine the current cash value of your car.
When this happens, they will take into consideration depreciation and the condition of the vehicle at the time of the accident. This will be lower than the amount it would take to replace your car with a newer model.
If the cost to repair your vehicle exceeds its current cash value, your adjuster will deem the vehicle to be totaled. You will receive payment for the cash value of the vehicle, minus the amount of your collision deductible.
If you still have a loan on your car, the payment will be made to your lender. It is possible that the cash value of your car isn’t enough to pay off your loan, meaning you could still owe more money to the lender. However, there is optional insurance called gap coverage that you can purchase to pay off the difference.
How Does Car Insurance Work When You Are Not at Fault?
If you are not at fault in an accident, the at-fault driver’s car insurance should pay for the damages to your vehicle, Keep in mind that you should not have to pay a deductible!Your insurance company will help you work with the other driver’s insurance company in getting your damages repaired. If the other driver does not have insurance or does not have enough coverage to pay for your repairs, you can use your policy’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages to have your vehicle repaired.
If you are injured, you can also use the medical payments coverage on your policy if you run into any issues in working with the other insurance company.
After the Accident
Once the claim is paid and resolved, you may be wondering, how much does car insurance go up after an accident? There is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Your personal driving record and claims history will determine if your rates increase after an accident. If you were at fault or received a citation in the accident, you are more likely to see a rate increase at your next policy renewal.
Ride With LOOP
Now that you know how auto Insurance works after an accident, it’s time to ride with LOOP. We are committed to making insurance as easy as possible. We’re here to give you the coverage you need at a fair, reasonable price. Get a quote today!