Personal Injury Lawyers
Attorney Van O'Steen

Fender Bender Accidents Merit Reporting

Van O'Steen

Share |

Drivers involved in minor automobile accidents sometimes prefer to pay for the damage themselves rather than report the accident to their insurance carrier. They fear a claim may result in an increase in insurance premiums, or worse, cancellation of their policy.

In the face of rapidly rising insurance rates, this practice of not notifying insurance companies of accidents appears to be increasingly popular, even when minor injuries occur.

A driver or policyholder is generally safe in failing to make an insurance report of a minor non-injury accident involving only himself or his family members. If friends or strangers are involved, however, it is risky not to report the accident. This is true even where no one appears to be injured and the damage is modest.

Most insurance policies contain a provision requiring the policyholder to notify promptly the company of any accidents in which he, his family members or his vehicles are involved. These provisions are intended to give the company an opportunity to investigate the accident while facts are still fresh, and to set aside money (called a "reserve") with which to settle any future claims.

A policyholder's failure to report promptly an accident to his insurance company may cause the company to deny coverage at a later date if a claim is presented, including one for injury to someone.

Because many injuries may not show up for days, or even weeks, after an accident, it is not safe to assume that an apparently uninjured automobile occupant will remain that way.

If a claim is presented later, or if you are sued for the accident, you do not want problems from your insurance company. In most cases, the company eventually will cover you anyway, but there is no reason to create a potential problem with coverage.

Keep in mind that filing a report does not mean that a claim ever will be made. Your report is simply information for your insurance company—information to which the company is entitled by its contract of insurance with you.