How does car insurance work when you have an accident?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Make sure a police report is filed by calling the police
  • Document the accident with pictures and in writing
  • File a claim with your insurance company
  • Wait for the results of the claim to find out who is paying for your medical bills and car repairs


While no driver intends to get into a car accident, accidents happen. The most common reasons for car accidents include driver error, distracted driving and not driving safely during adverse road conditions.

When you get into a car accident, you must wait for the police to arrive and fill out an accident report. The accident report will provide your insurance agency with the information they need in order to process your claim.

If you are unsure if you are protected in the event of an accident, you should review your policy. If it does not meet your needs, a comparison tool can help you find an affordable policy that does match your driving habits.

Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above! Enter your zip to get started now!

What to Do After a Car Accident

Police officer

When you get into a car accident with another vehicle, it is imperative that you do not leave the scene. Call 911 to report the accident and get help for anyone that is injured.

If you have flares of emergency markers, you should place them around your vehicle to alert other drivers.

While you are waiting for the police and during the police report, you should only provide pertinent information, but you should never admit guilt for causing the accident or apologize.

At the scene of the accident, you should make an attempt to exchange your information with the other driver.

Your insurance company will want to know the name, address and phone number of the other driver, their insurance agency and policy number and their driver license and plate numbers.

In addition, you will also need to write down or photograph your vehicle and the other vehicle, especially the license plate and the make, model, and year of the car.

If there are any witnesses, get their contact information and ask them to write down what they saw.

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File Your Claim

After everything has been finished at the accident scene, you should go to someplace safe and call your insurance company to file a claim.

After you file your claim, your insurance company will assign an adjuster to review your claim and make a determination.

Prior to the insurance company’s determination, most policies allow you to visit a doctor for any injuries sustained in the accident, and you may be able to take your car to a mechanic to start the process of having it repaired.

Before taking your car to your local maintenance shop, you should make sure the shop is approved by your insurance carrier.

The determination by your insurance company will be partially dependent on your policy and whether or not you are determined to be the at-fault driver.

If you find out your policy does not cover you if you are the at-fault driver, you may want to consider using an insurance comparison tool to help you find a better policy.

The Claims Process

Insurance claims binder

Your insurance claims adjustor will research your accident thoroughly to determine which driver caused the accident.

To do this, the adjuster may ask you to retrieve and mail a copy of the police report so that the adjuster can review the information taken by the police officer.

The report will also contain all of the other driver’s information, which is helpful for when your insurance company contacts the other insurance company.

While you are on the phone with the insurance adjuster, he or she will ask you questions about the accident, like the exact location, anything that led up to the accident and if you or the other driver received a traffic citation.

The adjustor will also need to see any photos you took of the accident scene and any information you wrote down from the other driver and any witnesses.

To help the adjuster make a decision, he or she may visit the location of your car to take additional pictures of the car accident damage.

Making a Determination

After thoroughly reviewing all the information and talking with the other insurance company, a determination will be made. The determination will depend on your insurance policy and whether or not you live in a no-fault state.

If you live in a no-fault state, you may be responsible for the entirety of your car repairs and medical bills.

However, if the accident was particularly grievous or there were extenuating circumstances, you may be able to sue the other insurance company for your car repairs and medical bills.

If you have liability insurance, your insurance policy does not cover you if you are found to be the at-fault driver.

If you have comprehensive and collision car insurance or full coverage car insurance, it does not matter if you were the at-fault driver in the accident. Your policy will cover the medical expenses for your injuries and the repair or replacement of your car.

When you have full coverage auto insurance, the details of who pays are determined between the insurance companies. If you are not the at-fault driver, the other insurance company will reimburse your insurance company.

If you are the at-fault driver, your insurance company pays your auto accident bills.

It is important to note that if you are found to be the at-fault driver, your insurance rates may increase, and you could lose certain discounts on your monthly car insurance premiums, like the safe driver.

Recovering from Your Accident

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Once your car insurance claim has been filed and a determination has been made, it’s time to get your car repaired and recovery from your accident.

However, you may find that impossible if you had to pay for all your car repairs and medical bills out of your own pocket, or if you had a high deductible that you could not afford.

If you encountered one of these scenarios, it may be time to search for a better insurance policy with a lower deductible.

To ensure you get the most coverage for the best price, you can use a comparison tool to research several different policies from multiple insurance carriers.

Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!

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