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Minor Car Accident ?

Here's What to Do After a Fender Bender

minor car accident fender bender


A minor car accident can happen at any time. From small fender benders at stop signs to bumps in parking lots, the chances are high that at one point you will experience these small incidents.

However, these small incidents can cause a lot of stress in our lives.

You probably know what to do at a major car accident scene.

But what about when the accident is minor? Most people ask themselves questions like:

“Do I call the police?”
“Should I report this to my insurance company?”
“It’s not that much damage. Should I just drive away? “

In this article we’ll answer the 3 most common questions:

1. What should I do after a minor accident?
2. Do I need to report it ?
3. Will my car Insurance premiums go up if I report a fender bender?

1. What Should I Do After a Minor Car Accident?

Most (if not all) of the recommended steps at car accident scene apply here. But specifically, what you’re going to do depends a lot on the context.

  1. Get out and survey the damage -- most state laws indicate that damage in an accident needs to exceed $500-$1000 [1] for a mandatory police report. If you’re in doubt, erring on the side of caution never hurts.

  2. If you’re in the middle of the roadway navigate to a safe stopping point, or if you’re in a driveway or parking lot make sure you are not blocking traffic. Initiate hazard lights.

  3. Immediately identify the other car -- make, model, license plate if possible -- you never know when another driver will take off.

  4. Take a few deep breaths -- stay calm the other driver may be confrontational and there is nothing to be gained by losing your temper.

  5. Take pictures, take notes, and exchange information. Having this information is important because the other driver may seem agreeable at the scene but stories change, memories blur, and you never know what can happen

Do I Need to Report a Minor Car Accident?

One thing that commonly happens in minor accidents is that the damage repair cost is lower than the insurance deductible. Often one driver prefers to pay out of pocket for damages instead of face the potential of increased premiums due to claims.

If this is the case not starting a claim can be logical. However, there are a variety of things that can happen. So, you need a carefully consider everything first.

If no one is hurt and damages are minor, you can make the decision to not involve either insurance company. If you come to an agreement with the other driver on doing this be sure to…

  • Get the agreement in writing and be sure that it is signed. While not legally binding this at least provides some proof an agreement was reached.

  • If any money is exchanged be sure to get a signed receipt for this.

  • Even if you determine that you won’t be filing a claim, get the other party’s insurance information.

Perhaps you are the driver who would prefer to keep the insurance companies out of it. If this is the course you decide to take remember…

  • If you are not at fault there is likely to be no impact on your premiums.

  • If the damage is minor and there are no injuries, one claim to fix a dent is also not likely to affect your rate substantially.

Will My Car Insurance Premiums Go Up if I Report a Fender Bender?

There is not really a consensus when it comes to answering this question. Ask one person and they’ll say it absolutely does every time, ask someone else and they may say no, or it depends.

We went straight to the horse's mouth.

According to Esurance [2]: Many believe that any claim, even from a minor accident, will lead to an increased car insurance rate. But this belief is all fable and no substance.

According to Geico [3]: Take a deep breath and relax. Filing a claim won't necessarily affect your premium.

But wait a minute you might be thinking…. these are insurance companies and of course they would say that. You may be right, and taking these statements as 100% fact is not advisable.

CBS News has cited a study [4] which found that that drivers who make just one claim end up paying an average of 41% more for car insurance -- so perhaps a distrust of those statements is valid.

This study was in relation to claims costing above $2,000, so keep this in mind before rushing to judgment in the other direction.

Summary

Though most minor car accidents don’t involve major personal injuries, they can be aggravating and cause unnecessary stress headaches.

You should now know how to document, assess and respond to the smalls accidents. We hope that you are now armed with a bit more information as to when (and when not) contacting the police or your insurance company is needed.

And perhaps most importantly of all you’ve got a better sense of premiums. The truth is no one can tell you precisely what will happen with your premiums, so take what we’ve said with a grain of salt and use your best judgement. Drive safe.



Sources

[1] http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/accident-reporting/
[2] https://www.esurance.com/info/car/myth-rates-automatically-rise-after-a-claim
[3] https://www.geico.com/claims/claimsprocess/accident-impact-on-rate/
[4] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/heres-how-much-your-rates-could-rise-after-an-accident/


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