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After you crash your car, there are steps you should take to make sure you fully utilize your insurance coverage, protect yourself legally and avoid unnecessary headaches. While every situation is different, notifying the police and your insurer of the accident are crucial in getting an accident covered by your insurance. Furthermore, doing these things could keep you from being held personally liable for damage caused in an accident.
What to do if I crash my car
The circumstances under which you crash your car will dictate what you need to do next. However, regardless of the situation, you should first assess the situation, get yourself out of the way of any potential danger and address any injuries. If someone is in need of urgent medical attention (including yourself), then you should call an ambulance to get help as soon as possible.
Call the police
After you get into an accident, especially with another vehicle, you should call the police to report the incident. The responding officers will gather statements from all drivers involved in the accident and any witnesses, then create a report. This police report can be useful for any resulting insurance claims that you or the other driver file for damage incurred during the accident. Note that the police may not respond to only very minor accidents, such as fender benders.
When speaking with police, relay the facts of what led to the accident, but avoid admitting fault or assigning responsibility for the accident. Doing so may inhibit your insurer's ability to defend you in future proceedings to establish fault — which could result in you being held liable for damages.
Information about the other driver and their vehicle is essential when filing a claim. Write down the name, vehicle information (such as make, model and license plate number) and insurance information of any other drivers involved in the accident. If a police officer shows up on the scene, record their name and badge number as well.
Additionally, be sure to get the name and contact information of anyone else who witnessed the accident. You'll need this information for your insurer and the accident report you may have to file with law enforcement.
Take pictures of the scene of the accident
Documentation of the accident, including damage to your vehicle, can help expedite the claims process and possibly help exonerate you from fault. Take pictures of the location of the accident and any information that pertains to incidents leading up to the crash.
File an accident report
Some states require you to file a report for accidents in which a certain amount of property damage occurs. In New York, for example, you are required to file one of these reports within 10 days of the accident if the property damage to one party, including yourself, exceeds $1,000. This report documents what happened during the accident and who was involved.
Contact your insurer
Notifying your insurer of your accident as soon as possible is crucial to making sure you can successfully file a claim and get your vehicle repaired. Furthermore, if you fail to report an accident to your insurance company, you open yourself up to potentially having to pay out of pocket for injuries or property damage that result.
What happens if a friend wrecks my car?
If you allow your friend to drive your car and they wreck it, then it will be covered under your auto insurance policy. Any damage that your friend is responsible for is covered up to your bodily injury and property damage liability coverage limits. Additionally, damage to your car is covered by collision insurance, if you have it, less your deductible.
If you only have the state minimum level of insurance coverage and your friend gets into an accident where they are considered to be at fault, repairs to your vehicle are not covered. This is because in most cases, collision coverage is optional and a liability-only policy is all that is mandated. However, if you lease or finance your vehicle, your lessor or lender may require you to carry collision and comprehensive coverages.
My friend drove my car without my permission and wrecked it
If you can prove that your friend borrowed your car without permission — or if your car was stolen — you will not be held liable for damage caused in an accident. Your auto insurance will likely not take effect in this case. Instead, your friend's auto insurance policy will pay for repairs to your vehicle and for losses incurred by other parties in the accident.
If your friend does not have insurance, then you may have to file a claim against your collision coverage — if your policy includes this type of insurance — to get your car repaired. Additionally, depending on your friend's insurance policy, you could seek a settlement against them to get reimbursed for the cost of any repairs needed.
Your insurer will likely assume that your friends have permission to use your car, and proving that this is not the case may be difficult. You often need to provide evidence that they have been explicitly forbidden from driving your car to prove your friend wasn't allowed to operate your vehicle.
Will my auto insurance rates go up if I crash my car?
If you get into an accident and are at fault, your car insurance rates will likely increase. We found that insurance rates after an accident may increase as much as 33%. However, an accident in which you are not considered to be at fault likely won't result in a premium increase.
Drivers who qualify for or have purchased accident forgiveness see a smaller impact on their insurance rates. These accident forgiveness programs let drivers avoid the typical premium increases that accompany an accident. However, their rates could still increase, depending on where they live and their auto insurance company, as a result of losing their good driver discount.
How to get low car insurance rates after an accident
We found that Progressive is the best insurance company for those with an accident on their driving record. However, as rates vary depending on your age, vehicle and location, the best way to combat a premium increase after a crash is to shop around and gather quotes from multiple companies. Enter your ZIP code into our tool at the top of the page to begin shopping for car insurance policies right now.