What do I need to know if I’m in an accident?

Free Car Insurance Comparison

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State...

Full Bio →

Written by

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses...

Full Bio →

Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®https://res.cloudinary.com/quotellc/image/upload/insurance-site-images/ciccom-live/41b5e36b-joel-ohman.jpg

UPDATED: Jun 12, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Here's what you need to know...

  • It’s mandatory to have car insurance coverage in most states
  • If involved in a car accident, the first thing you need to do is make sure no one was injured
  • Be sure to exchange all vital pieces of information with the other driver to include phone number, insurance policy number, license plate number, and driver license number

Besides being mandatory in most states, of the main reasons to have car insurance is in case something happens like a car crash.

If the policyholder has the right type of insurance coverage, their car insurance should pay to fix or replace their damaged car as well as pay for any medical costs they may have.

If the policyholder is at fault for the accident, their insurance will also cover the costs of the other driver involved.

Enter your zip code above and start comparing low-cost car insurance quotes now!

How does the accident claim process work?

man in front of car accident

After an accident, the first thing the policyholder should do is make sure that no one is seriously injured. If there are injuries, the paramedics should be called right away. If there are no injuries, the police should be called.

A lot of the time people do not want to get the police involved, but if the policyholder wants to file a claim with their insurance provider, they have to have a police report.

While waiting for the police to arrive, the drivers involved in the accident should exchange contact information.

Once the police arrive, they will take statements from the drivers and any witnesses and begin the police report. The policyholder should call their insurance provider as soon as possible to start the claims process.

The insurance adjuster will determine if the car can be repaired or if it is totaled. When a car is totaled, that means the cost to repair the car is more than the actual amount the car is worth.

The policyholder’s coverage should cover these costs. Once the adjuster has finished and submitted their findings, the insurance provider will issue the policyholder a check.

The policyholder’s coverage should cover these costs. Once the adjuster has submitted their findings, the insurance provider will issue the policyholder a check.

The length of the claims process depends on the resources of the policyholder’s insurance provider and how cooperative the other driver’s insurance company is in the process.

If everything goes smoothly, the process should be complete within a couple of weeks. If the insurance companies can’t come to an agreement, things could potentially escalate to a legal situation.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save!

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What effect will an accident have on my car insurance?

A car accident will most likely increase your monthly premium rates. Even if you are not at fault for the accident, your rates will still probably go up.

If a driver is enrolled in an accident forgiveness program with their insurer their rates will not go up after one accident.

This is a great program for someone that has a clean driving record and does not want their rates to increase after their first accident.

If the driver does have their rates increased, they can try and take advantage of certain car insurance discounts to lower their premium again. For instance, they could get a discount for attending a safe driving course after an accident.

What type of coverage should I have?


Most states require a driver to carry a certain amount of liability coverage. If the policyholder is at fault, liability insurance will pay for property damage and injuries sustained by the other driver involved in the accident.

Comprehensive and collision insurance protects drivers’ cars and personal injury protection and medical payments coverage to help cover any medical costs.

For protection against drivers that are uninsured or not enough to cover the costs of an accident, the policyholder should also consider getting uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This is also they type of coverage the policyholder will need if they are the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

Be sure to look at the various car insurance options you have by entering your zip code below now!


  1. https://www.geico.com/claims/after-an-accident/
  2. https://www.thebalance.com/understanding-minimum-car-insurance-requirements-2645473
  3. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/tips-settling-car-accident-claim.html
  4. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2012/03/08/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-auto-insurance-rates/#48b16189759a
  5. http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/insurance/vehicle/auto-insurance/accident-forgiveness-what-you-should-know.html
  6. https://www.allstate.com/tools-and-resources/car-insurance/liability-car-insurance-cover.aspx

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save!

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption