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When purchasing auto insurance and signing the agreement, you are agreeing to follow all of the rules that your insurance agency has deemed necessary for insuring your vehicle. If you do not follow these rules, it could land you in a lot of trouble.
Report All Accidents to Your Car Insurance Company
Almost every auto insurance policy specifically states that you are required to report any and all accidents as soon as they occur regardless if there were any injuries or damage. If the accident involved only your vehicle, it needs to be reported. If it involved your vehicle and another vehicle where damage will need to be repaired, it needs to be reported.
This is because insurance companies need to update their records to ensure that your policy covers that automobile in its current condition at the value that it is appraised at to include any damage, no matter how slight it may be.
You can find out the current value of your car by entering in a few pieces of information at Kelley Blue Book’s website. This is a quick and easy way to find out what your car is worth and if your insurance company is assigning the correct value to it in your policy.
Accidents Should Always Be Reported
If you have an accident that involves another party, you should always call your insurance company immediately. Have all of the pertinent information at hand, such as your policy number, driver’s license number, and most importantly the make, model, and involved parties of the other vehicle.
By reporting an accident immediately yourself, you are providing your side of the story to your insurance company.
If the other party files a claim against you but you do not report the accident, then the insurance company has only their claim to go by and could possibly rule against you as being at fault.
Police Reports Can Be Your Best Friend
When you have an accident, it is usually best to call the police and file a report. There are several reasons for this. If you and the other party involved have the same report, then both of your insurance companies will have the same facts.
The police officer on the scene can verify the damage and those who are involved as well as the location. These are important facts because if the other person files a claim with your insurance company before you do, you do not have to worry about any contradictions regarding what happened or who was at fault.
If you have an accident that involves another vehicle, make sure that you request a police report on scene. Some states, such as Missouri, do not require the police to file an accident report if there are no injuries and there is no need for any vehicles to be towed regardless of the amount of damage has occurred if all involved parties have agreed to no need for a police report.
Having a police report on file can make things much easier for you when you report the accident to your insurance company. It is your proof that you have verified the facts and that you are trying to do the right thing.
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, there is always room for improvement in the arena of driver’s safety. This organization promotes the integration of state traffic records to be shared between national traffic databases in order to have a more organized and available set of data on driving records.
Insurance Companies Are Notified of Issued Tickets
There are three main categories of tickets that are reported to your insurance company: minor, major, and serious.
Minor tickets include that are reported to your insurance company include, but are not limited to, the vehicle having defective brakes, failing to use a turn signal, failing to yield to a pedestrian, and improper lane changes. These may seem like utterly minute driving offenses that happen every day, but more often than not they are the causes of accidents that could have been easily prevented.
Major tickets that are reported to insurance companies include failing to report an accident and speeding. Speeding tickets can vary depending on how fast you were going and in what type of zone the speeding occurred.
Serious tickets that are reported include driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, a hit-and-run accident, meaning being involved in an accident but fleeing the scene, and dangerous driving.
These types of violations are reported to your insurance company because they are considered very serious things. If you are involved in an accident due to having committed one of these offenses, not only do you have to report the accident as per the rules of your insurance policy but you could also receive a ticket for committing one of these bad driving habits.
Reported Accidents May or May Not Appear
Rules vary across the nation, but most states require that if you have an accident that you report it regardless of the damage. However, it is imperative that if the accident resulted in a death or damages above a certain amount that it be reported to the police. This is so that there can be an official record on file and to ensure that all parties involved had some type of car insurance.
Depending on the state in which you live and if the accident were bad enough, it could end up on your driving record, which would, in turn, be available for the insurance companies to locate.
No Connection to the DMV
There is no connection between your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and the insurance companies. The DMV website goes into some detail about how your driving record can and is often used by insurance companies to determine what classification of a driving risk you are. Your driving history is not reported to insurance companies but it is available to them with your permission to accurately assess your driving ability.
There is, however, something called a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR). As well as being comprised of your basic information such as hair and eye color, it also reflects any tickets or traffic violations that may be present on your license and how many points have accrued. It is basically a summary of your past driving history. This document plays into determining what type of risk you are to insurance companies and how they rate your policy.
If you feel that you are being overcharged by an insurance company, you can request an official copy of your MVR. You than may use it to request a more accurate insurance rating from your provider.
Insurance companies do research your driving record when you initially apply for auto insurance and then again before renewing your policy. Some insurance companies check it again when you make changes to your policy such as adding a new driver or vehicle to your policy.
The general rule is that if you are involved in an accident but there are no police reports filed and no tickets are issued that fall into the three main categories of minor, major, or serious accidents, then it is most likely that it will not show up on your MVR.
Switching Could Save You Money
Once you have an accident on your driving record, it stays there for a long time. This, of course, will usually make your premiums increase. You may find that your monthly payments could be higher than what you expect.
Do a little comparison shopping. Just because you have had an accident does not mean that you will never have affordable rates again.
If you do wish to change insurance companies, visit the website of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) first and make sure that the company you are dealing with is legitimate. The BBB assigns a rating to each business and shows a listing of all complaints filed against it and how/if they were resolved. An additional resource to view complaints filed against insurance companies is the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) discusses how some car insurance companies are not allowed to dictate which type of repair parts that are used to repair your vehicle. However, be aware that by repairing your vehicle with new or used parts could affect the value of your car, which in turn could affect your insurance rates.
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