Should I Call My Insurance After a Fender Bender?
You can best protect your rights by always notifying your insurer of an accident, even one that appears minor. You likely have a contractual obligation to provide notice within a reasonable time anyway– because even the most minimal accidents can result in bodily injury or repair bills.
You have the right to speak with an attorney regardless of who caused the accident, and you should take advantage of that right, especially before offering any statements to an insurance company.
Contractual obligation to inform New York insurance company
When you obtain an insurance policy, you are entering a contract. The insurance company agrees to pay for certain losses, and you agree to certain terms, including prompt notice of an accident or potential claim.
A fender bender may not seem very serious, but these types of accidents often result in injuries that appear a few days later, as well as shockingly high repair bills. You or the other party may need to file a claim in the future– do not put your coverage at risk by failing to abide by the prompt notice terms of your policy.
Fault does not matter when it comes to informing your insurer
Many people mistakenly believe that there is no need to inform their insurance company if they were not at fault for the crash. If all goes according to plan, the other party should be fully responsible, so there is no need– so the logic goes. However, that is not always the case.
Some of the most common injuries, including soft tissue damage and whiplash-type injuries, do not immediately appear. You need to inform your carrier promptly if you have injuries and wish to make a claim under your no-fault policy.
If the at-fault party does not have liability coverage to pay for the damage– you may need to make a claim under your own. Again, promptness will work out better for you in the long run.
Will reporting an NYC accident result in higher insurance rates?
The most prevalent fear is that reporting an accident will automatically lead to higher insurance rates. These rates are determined by underwriters who base decisions on many factors, which can include:
- Amount of the claim
- Whether the state prohibits rate penalties unless the accident loss exceeds a certain amount (qualifying it as a “chargeable accident”)
- Whether insurer offers a one-time no-penalty accident forgiveness
- Safe driving history
Your rate is based on the level of risk you present to the company. If the accident was not your fault, it will not be held against you– because it doesn’t mean you are more likely to be in other accidents.
What to do after a fender bender
Seemingly minor fender benders can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills and car repairs. Not taking the right steps in the immediate aftermath can hurt your ability to recover the compensation you are owed. To protect yourself and your rights:
- Call 911. If the accident resulted in bodily injury or property damage amounted to more than $1,000, you are required under New York law to file a police report within 10 days.
- Document the scene. Take photographs and obtain the names and contact information of anyone involved or who witnessed the accident.
- Seek medical attention. Some of the most common fender bender injuries can take a couple of days to become apparent, but early medical evaluation and treatment will improve your recovery and also help document your claim.
- Notify your insurance carrier. Do not risk breaching the terms of your policy by failing to provide the information to your carrier.
Consult with a New York lawyer
If you have been involved in a car accident, make sure you understand your rights and the extent of your injuries. A misstep right after the accident may prevent you from being fully compensated. The attorneys at Douglas & London understand New York fender benders. We proudly serve clients throughout New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Call today to schedule a free consultation with a New York car accident attorney.