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Reporting a Car Accident to the Police

Here's what you need to know...
  • You are not required by law to report an accident, so long as the damage is minimal
  • It is within your best interest to report any accident, especially if another individual claims he will pay for the damages to your car out-of-pocket
  • It is possible for your car insurance rates to increase after an accident that you did not cause
So, you’ve had a car accident but there are no injuries and you are wondering if you have to call the police to report the accident.

The problem is that the laws for this vary from state to state, which means that it is important to know your state’s laws in order to know when you need to call the police.

In most cases, you have to call the police if the damage to either vehicle involved in an accident looks like it exceeds a certain monetary amount. In some states it may only be $1,000 in damage; in other states, it can be as much as $5,000 in damage.

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It may be prudent to call the police no matter how minor the accident.

You don’t know whether something that seems minor will turn into something major later.

Having a police report regarding the incident may end up protecting you if you end up in court over the accident.

What if I don’t contact the police and there is a problem later?

If you don’t call the police at the time of your car accident, you run the risk of a future problem.

If the other driver in the accident is an honest person, then you may only face longer turnaround times from your insurance company.

If, however, that person starts making false claims about an accident, you may end up having to defend yourself in court.

Do I have to inform my insurance company if I have an accident?

You don’t have to report an accident to an insurance company if you don’t want to.

Of course, both you and the other driver in the accident have to agree to this course of action because, if one of you reports the accident and the other doesn’t, this could cause a problem when it comes time to collect on a claim.

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Not many people forgo calling their insurance company if they have an accident.

However, if someone has the money to pay for the damages in an accident, they are not obligated to use their insurance to cover the costs.

If you are in an accident that someone else causes and they ask you not to call their insurance company because they will pay for the damages themselves, you still need to exchange insurance information.

The reason for this is that many people say they are going to pay and then they don’t.

If you get their insurance information, then you can make a claim without them, so long as you have the police report proving that there was an accident.

If you don’t inform your insurance company of an accident and you don’t get the repairs done to your vehicle, your insurance company can refuse to pay a future claim based on the prior damage to your vehicle.

It is important that you get the repairs done on your vehicle if at all possible so that any future claims aren’t a problem.

My car insurance rates went up after an accident that wasn’t my fault–is that legal?

Car accident on the street.

An insurance company can raise your rates even if you aren’t the cause of an accident. However, most insurance companies don’t do this unless you have had several car accidents throughout the year.

The reason they do this is a bit tricky. When someone has multiple claims in a short time-frame, it appears as if the person is engaging in high-risk driving, even if they aren’t the cause of the accidents.

An insurance company will raise your rates based on a perceived risk, even if you haven’t caused any accidents because insurance companies base rates on perceived risk.

For example, a teen driver with no driving history is automatically considered to be a high-risk driver because of statistics associated with teen driving.

If you think that your insurance company is targeting you unjustly, you can file a complaint with your state’s insurance department.

You will also want to consider changing car insurance companies. Of course, you will want to get a quote first to ensure that you can get a lower rate than what you are already paying.

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