I was just in a very minor fender-bender. Do I even need to tell my auto insurance company?

First of all, we are glad to hear that your accident was not more serious. Any day you can walk away from a collision unharmed is a lucky day for all involved.

As far as your insurance goes, there are very few examples that we could give where you wouldn’t be well-advised to inform your auto insurance carrier. While you may feel as though you and the other driver can settle for a cash payment one way or another, or simply agree just to attend to your own vehicles, this move could backfire on you quickly.

We understand the fear of reporting an accident and watching your premiums rise. Unfortunately, your policy most likely has a clause that requires you to report any accident in which you had involvement immediately. Even if you and the other driver successfully agree on a sum between the two of you, if your insurer finds out about the accident, you could face serious difficulties or hefty penalties.

What causes this seemingly paranoid requirement from the insurance carriers? Say you agree to pay the other driver $200 cash because you backed into his car and dented the corner or his rear bumper. The other driver agrees that this is fair, and takes the money with a handshake. Three days later, however, he learns the repair will cost much more than he thought—or he claims to be injured.

Your first thought may be to lean on your auto insurance policy to pay for these new damages, but this is the first that your carrier has heard of a wreck. Your insurer may deny you coverage since you broke your policy agreement to report accidents immediately, leaving you to pay for the other driver’s damage through other means.

There are very few examples that would be considered justifiable to not inform your auto insurance carrier of an accident—in fact, there may only be one type of accident that it is acceptable. If you are involved in an accident in your own car, on your property, and only your property is damaged (such as backing into your child’s bike that he left lying in the driveway or opening your door too hard into the wall of your garage), you may not need to report it; not only will it save you the embarrassment, but there are no other parties to dispute what happened.

If you have more questions about insurance reporting requirements after a car accident, we are happy to answer them. Simply click on the live chat link to be connected with a firm representative now!