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Possible Rate Increase
Accidents may increase your auto insurance rates, or they may not. It all depends on where you live, who was at fault and your overall driving record. In Oklahoma, for example, the state Insurance Code prohibits an insurance company for raising your premium rates in certain circumstances, according to the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner’s website.
Oklahoma auto insurance companies may not raise your premium on a liability or collision policies if you were in an accident that was not your fault.
The same Insurance Code also prohibits the companies from adding points to your driving record or canceling or refusing to renew your liability or collision policy if you were not at fault for an accident.
If an accident was your fault, on the other hand, you can probably expect to pay more for your car insurance premium regardless of where you live. Not reporting the accident to your insurance company does not necessarily mean it will not find out about it. If the accident is reported to law enforcement or the department of motor vehicles, a public record of the incident exists.
Likewise, the other parties involved could report the accident to their own insurance company, making another record of the incident with information that could get back to your own company. It is also the law in many states to report the accident to the department of motor vehicles whether or not you plan to file a car insurance claim for the damage.
Reporting the Accident
Although each state has different laws regarding reporting an auto accident, most, if not all, states require it be reported if the crash resulted in serious injury or death. Even if you do not personally report the incident to the motor vehicle department, law enforcement on the scene will automatically make a record of it.
When no law enforcement is around, it is still wise to know what your home state dictates is the correct procedure following an accident. In California, for example, you must stop after any accident, no matter how minor and regardless if it was your fault. The State Bar of California notes you can be charged with hit and run if you do not stop.
California law also dictates you must report the accident to the California Highway Patrol or local law enforcement as well as your insurance company. You are also required to report the accident to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles if the crash resulted in death, injuries, or damage to either vehicle that exceeds $750.
Other Post-Accident Steps
In addition to reporting the accident to the proper parties, state laws may also dictate a series of other steps you need to take following a crash. Offering assistance to anyone who was injured may be a requirement, as may be staying with someone who was rendered unconscious or killed.
Even if it is not state law, a number of other steps can be very important following a crash. Exchanging information with the other parties involved is recommended. This allows everyone to properly report the accident and makes it easier for the insurance companies to pay for the damage.
The information should include your names, addresses, driver license numbers, vehicle license plate numbers, and your insurance companies. The State Bar of California advises to at least get a description of the other parties involved if they will not give you their names. It also advises taking a detailed description of the vehicles involved and even drawing a diagram of the crash so it remains fresh in your mind.
Admitting fault at the scene is not recommended, even if you feel you were to blame. You may not know all the details of what was happening in the other vehicle and something that appeared to be your fault may not be.
If you do receive a ticket at the scene, the State Bar of California says you should sign it and accept it.
Signing the ticket typically only means you received a copy of it, not that you are admitting any fault in the incident. The back of the ticket from any state usually outlines how you can deal with the citation, whether you want to pay it or fight it in court.
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