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 University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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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, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • You should file an auto accident claim shortly after you get into an accident
  • Your insurance company may raise your rates after your accident if you were the at-fault driver
  • Under some specific instances, you may opt to not file a claim
  • If your car insurance increases after your accident, you can find a new, more affordable policy by using a comparison tool

When you get into a car accident, you will want to file a claim as soon as you are somewhere safe. However, there are certain instances where you may not want to file a claim.

For instance, if you hit the side of your garage with your car mirror and the damage is less than your deductible. You would want to repair the damage out of your own pocket and avoid a potential rate increase.

Make sure you have the right coverage for the best price. Enter your zip code in our FREE comparison tool to get started!

When to File a Car Accident Claim

Car insurance is designed to provide you with financial protection in the event that you are involved in a car accident. Without car insurance, you would be responsible for 100 percent of your damages and medical bills and 100 percent of the other driver’s accident related expenses.

When you get into a car accident with another driver, you will want to exchange insurance information and call your insurance company to report the claim. Exchanging information protects you from being sued later.

All states have their own insurance rules and regulations that must be followed when filing a claim. In Illinois, the Department of Insurance recommends that drivers either file a first-person claim or a third-person claim after an accident.

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First and Third-Person Insurance Claims

A first-person claim is one where you call your insurance company to discuss the accident and file a claim. If the other driver is found to be at fault, your insurance company pays you.

A third-person insurance claim is one where you call the other driver’s insurance company and file a claim. If the other driver is found to be at fault, his or her insurance company pays you, and you are considered a third party because the insurance policy belongs to the other driver.

If you believe the other driver was at fault, you may want to consider filing a third party claim. If you caused the accident or you are not sure who caused the accident, you should file a first-person claim. At that point, the insurance companies will determine fault.

How to File a Car Accident Claim

It is in your best interest to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as you can after the accident. Some states, like Kansas, offer advice to drivers about what to do after they’ve been involved in an accident and how to file a claim.

  • Exchange information with the other driver if they are willing. If they are not willing, do not force the issue.
  • Call the police to alert them of the accident. They will send an officer to the scene. Let the operator know if there are any injuries so that EMS can be sent as well. Wait for the office to take a report.
  • Call your insurance company. All insurance companies have a claims department that is available 24 hours a day if your agent has left the office for the day, or your accident occurs on the weekend.
  • Tell your insurance company as many details about the accident as you can. They may request a copy of the police report to view. It is up to you to get a copy and mail it to your insurance company.
  • Your insurance company will determine who was at fault and notify you.

If you are determined to be the at-fault driver or you live in a no-fault state, filing a claim could result in an increase in your insurance premiums. If you find your new rates unaffordable, you can use a comparison tool to search for a less expensive insurance policy.

When not to File a Claim

There may be times when it is in your best interest not to file a claim. However, these may be few and far between. It goes without saying that you should always file a claim if another person, their property, or vehicle is involved in the accident.

When another person or their property is involved in an accident, they could sue you later for damages or attempt to extort money from you.

If you hit your own property or an inanimate object, like a boulder or a guardrail where neither object was significantly damaged, and no other car or person was involved, you might be better off repairing your vehicle yourself and skipping your insurance company.

Repairing the vehicle out of pocket is especially advantageous if your deductible is extremely high. If you have a $1,000 deductible and the damage is less than $1,000, filing a claim won’t financially benefit you, and you could see your rates increase even if your insurance company doesn’t pay you a dime.

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Getting Cheaper Car Insurance after an Accident

If you have recently been in an accident that you had to file a claim for and your insurance company paid the claim and raised your rates, you might be better off shopping for a different insurance company, especially if this accident is your first or you haven’t been in an accident in several years.

Different insurance companies treat accidents and incidents differently, and shopping for car insurance using a comparison tool could result in finding better policies at lower rates. All you have to do is provide  information about your car and your driving habits and record.

Make Sure Your Comparison Quote Tool Information is Accurate

Just make sure that when you enter your information, you include all your accidents and any moving violations you’ve received within the last few years. Lying on the quote form can result in inaccurate quotes, and if you choose to lie about your accident and incident history, it could result in the revocation of your new insurance policy.

Once you locate a policy that you can afford and meets your needs, you can purchase it online. After your purchase, you will be able to print your temporary insurance cards. Your regular cards will be mailed to you by your new insurance company.

Start comparison shopping today! Enter your zip code in our FREE tool to get started.