Laura Berry is a former State Farm insurance producer and insurance expert.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Call 911 or the police directly after the accident
  • Wait for the police to take the accident report
  • Call your insurance company and file a claim as soon as you are somewhere safe
  • A comparison tool can help you find affordable coverage that will cover you in the event of an accident

No one driving intends to get into a car accident. Unfortunately, accidents happen, which is the reason all states mandate some form of insurance before a person can drive legally. However, it is important to understand what to do after your car accident and how car insurance works after you get into an accident. If you are worried that your insurance won’t cover you or that you do not have enough insurance, a comparison tool can help you compare several policies from multiple carriers. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

What to Do After Your Car Accident

When you get into a car accident, there are certain steps you should take to protect yourself physically and financially. The first thing you should do is stay calm. Panicking won’t make the situation any less stressful for yourself or your passengers. You should move your car to the side of the road if it is safe to do so and your car still runs. Alert other drivers by placing emergency markers around your car and turning on your hazard lights. Call 911 or the police and wait for them to arrive. You will want the police officer to take a report of the accident.

Your insurance company will want a copy of the report to view the accident details and the driver’s information.

Once the police report is finished and you’ve been told you can leave, go to a safe place and call your insurance company to file a claim. This will start the process of determining who is the at-fault driver and if your car will be repaired or replaced.

  • Move your car to the side of the road if it is safe
  • Call 911
  • Wait for the police
  • File a police report
  • Call your insurance company and file a claim

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How Car Insurance Works

Car insurance is designed to protect you after a car accident. It is essentially an agreement between you and your insurance provider that states if you pay your premium on time, the insurance company will abide by the provisions in your policy. Whether or not you get your car repaired or replaced by an insurance company is dependent on your policy and who is determined to be the at-fault driver.

If you are not the at-fault driver, the other driver’s insurance will repair or replace your vehicle. If you are the at-fault driver, it depends on your insurance policy. If you only carry liability, you will have to pay for your car repairs. If you have collision insurance, your insurance company will pay for your accident-related expenses.

Filing a Car Insurance Claim

To file your car insurance claim after your accident, you should call your insurance company and provide them with details of the accident. The exact process of how your insurance company handles your claim depends on where you live. In Utah, one or more drivers can be found liable for causing the accident.

Under this type of law, a driver would have to be found less than 50 percent responsible for the accident to have his or her car repaired by the other insurance company.

In general, your insurance company will talk to you, request a copy of the accident report, and talk to the other insurance company. A determination of fault will be made, and you will be notified of the outcome. If you were found to be the at-fault driver, you may or may not be responsible for the repairs of your car. It depends on the details of your insurance policy. If you are uncertain if you are covered if you cause an accident, you should read your policy and use a comparison tool to compare other insurance policies. In many instances, a comparison tool can find you more coverage for less cost.

  • Call your insurance company, report the accident and file a claim
  • Your insurance company will determine who caused the accident
  • Your insurance policy and its provisions will determine whether or not your car gets repaired
  • A comparison tool can help you find auto insurance that covers you even if you cause an accident

Getting Your Car Repaired or Replaced

Once a determination has been made on your auto accident claim, you will be told whether or not your car is to be repaired or replaced by the insurance company. If your claim is denied, you will be responsible for repairing or replacing your vehicle and paying any other accident-related expenses out of your budget.

If your claim was approved, one of the insurance companies involved will be responsible for repairing or replacing your vehicle.

Some insurance companies may require you to get your car repaired at a specific shop. However, depending on your state, you may be able to choose who repairs your car. Connecticut, for example, allows you to choose your shop even if the insurance company provides you with a list of shops.

Once your car is at a shop, they will perform an estimate. If that estimate is more than your car is worth, your car may be considered a “total loss“, which means you will receive compensation for the amount your vehicle was worth before the accident minus any applicable fees and deductibles. If your car can be repaired for less than it was worth before the accident, it will be repaired to its pre-accident condition.

  • Your insurance company may or may not pay for your car repairs
  • If an insurance company agrees to repair or replace your car, you may have to use an insurance approved shop
  • A comparison tool can help you find a policy that better meets your needs in the event of an accident

When you get into a car accident, your first concern should be for the safety of yourself and your passengers. This may mean moving your car to the side of the road. Once everyone is safe, you should call 911 and wait on the police officer.

While you are waiting, you should take pictures of the accident scene, the damage on your car, and the damage on the other vehicle.

If possible, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. The police officer will take notes on the accident, get both driver’s information and file a police report. Once you are finished at the accident scene and someplace safe, you should call your insurance company and file a claim. Your insurance company will either accept or deny your claim, and the outcome will determine who pays for your car repairs and medical expenses. If you are concerned about not being covered in the event of an accident or not having enough coverage, you can use a comparison tool to quickly find other insurance policies. Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!