Let’s say you’re driving along, jamming out to the radio on the way to get your kids from school. And then, BAM! You see stars for a minute before realizing the truck behind you wasn’t paying attention and rear-ended your car. After making sure that you’re okay and discussing the lack of actual damage or injury with the other driver comes the tough decision of whether you call this into your insurance or get the police involved.
If you leave now, you don’t have to file a claim (which could possibly increase your insurance), and everyone involved would undoubtedly be much happier with not having to wait for the police to come and verify that there is, in fact, no damage or injury.
But, here’s what can happen next. Just to make sure, you have your car looked at and find that there are thousands of dollars worth of frame damage that was invisible to your untrained eye. Now you’re in quite a predicament at the body shop because you didn’t even get the number of the guy that hit you. Even worse, now that it’s been a few days, you can feel the stiffness in your neck and pain in your back. There was personal injury after the minor accident.
It’s time to break the myth that a fender bender is less expensive if you don’t report it. The truth is, you aren’t genuinely aware at the time of the accident whether there is unrealized medical injuries or damage to either vehicle that isn’t obvious at that moment. When adrenaline is pumping, even after a tiny bump, it’s probably the case that your body’s natural survival response is masking any pain. Bruising may not appear until two days later. Not having called the police or gotten checked out medically, there is no proof that the fender bender itself caused these injuries. Every medical expense is yours.
Furthermore, it’s not accurate anymore that filing a claim immediately raises insurance rates. Initially, your insurance company will take into account how significant the actual accident was. Understanding that substantial accidents will cost the company a considerable amount, they are also aware that smaller fender-benders won’t cost them nearly the same amount of money. You should also keep in mind that if you did not cause the accident, the insurer is unlikely to raise your rates.
When someone else is involved, ALWAYS get their insurance information. Trying to figure everything out between the two of you in the heat of the moment is doing nothing but setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration later on. Without involving the police, there is no police report to use in investigating the claim. Because there was no insurance information exchanged, there is not enough evidence for the insurance company to use to handle the incident properly. At this point, your insurer is washing their hands of the situation, and you’re crying all the way to the bank to pay for the vehicle and medical expenses.
Bottom line, if there is any other person or vehicle involved in a fender bender, exchange insurance information and call the police to file a report. It’s a dangerous roll of the dice, with the odds stacked against you, if you don’t.