Do you know your responsibilities after an auto accident?

It’s an uncomfortable feeling to not know what to do…

Everyone who has been in a minor car accident where no one is hurt and just damage to the vehicles, knows the uncomfortable feeling afterwards.  They also know the uncomfortable thoughts  – I hope my insurance covers this or What do I do now?  We ask…why have that feeling?

Here is your solution to that feeling …be informed.

In your insurance policy, there is a section “Duties After An Accident”.  This section has the details of your responsibilities for filing a claims, how to interact with the carrier, and your general obligations.  These duties apply even if it is a covered loss, you must comply with certain duties that you promised your insurer in your policy (contract).  Failure to comply with your end of the contract could result in the insurer deciding not to honor its end of the contract.  This is the nightmare scenario and maybe one reason why you here terrible stories about “XYZ Insurance Company”.

Keep in mind, these duties can vary under which policy form you are filing for coverage, for example Uninsured Motorists Coverage vs. Physical Damage.  Below are examples of Duties After an Accident or Loss, again it is normally a separate section in your auto policy that states your duties under the terms of the policy.   

These are examples of typical duties and procedures to follow after an auto accident.   Please use common sense and your own judgement (for example, DON’T read this while in danger)

  1. First, make sure you and your passengers are safe.
  2. Notify the police if it was a hit and run, someone was hurt, etc.
  3. Take reasonable steps to prevent further damage to your vehicle
  4. Notify your insurer promptly, as soon as practical.
    • This can be done with a phone call or fax to the claim department.  Normally this contact information is included with your policy materials or on your insurers website.   You can also call your agent, who will have information for you about the next steps.
  5. Cooperate with your insurer –
    • This can include providing details of witnesses, details of loss, securing and sending police reports, and any other information.
  6. Submit legal papers to your insurer
  7. Permit inspection and appraisal of the damage property
  8. Submit to a physical exam if your insurer wants to examine you or the vehicle
  9. Agree to exam under oath
  10. Authorize a release of pertinent medical records
  11. Submit a proof of loss

InsuranceShark recommendation:

For all you InsuranceShark fans out there, the best way to become a shark of your own is to stay informed via sites like ours, your agent, etc.

Read and contribute to our IShark reviews, read our definitions of insurance jargon.  The reviews are user entered reviews of various insurance companies and feel free to add your own.  This will help others learn from our collective experiences.   Ask questions.

Another equally powerful way to become an InsuranceShark is to READ the policy.  We know this must come as a surprise, but most people don’t read their insurance policy.  We understand that it’s not exciting topic that is less interesting than reality TV and a little dry to read the insurance jargon but we are here to help.  (Don’t be discouraged and this isn’t a lecture, surveys suggest even insurance professionals tend to not read their policies carefully.)

Once you have enough experience with InsuranceShark we will give you the tools to become experts of your own.  To read the policy, declarations page, coverage endorsements, and use these skills to negotiate and buy the most appropriate form of insurance for you.

We want you to buy the right customized policy that protects you from your risks.  So you have the confidence and know how to navigate this world of risk.

If you have questions, please Contact Us and we will help point you in the right direction.

About the author

Arnold Smith

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