Consider the following scenario: you are trying to leave a parking spot and accidentally hit the car behind you. Your car seems to be in good condition, while the other person’s car has a little damage or scratch. This is considered a minor car accident. So, if you were in a minor car accident, you might be wondering whether or not to notify your insurance company, given the option of privately settling the event by paying for the other party’s vehicle damage out of pocket.
Covering the expense of an accident out of pocket means keeping your insurance provider in the dark, which should prevent a premium increase. But it also means that you may have to pay if more damage turns up or if you got hurt and notice it only in few days after the accident.
How you handle a small accident—whether you pay for it out of your own pocket or file a claim—will depend on a number of things, such as the amount of damage, your ability to pay for it, and how comfortable you are with the possibility that the other person will come back with an injury. Keep on reading to learn how to handle minor car accidents without involving insurance companies.
Dealing with a No-Damage Accident
Sometimes the drivers reach a mutual understanding to resolve the issue without making a claim. Of course, this is done in order to avoid a claim ruining the at-fault driver’s auto insurance rates for the following few years.
This path can be risky on its own, but if you take it the right way, it can help you save money on a bothersome problem.
Will my Rates Go Up if Report an Accident to Insurance Company?
Even though there are many reasons not to tell your insurance company about a minor accident, most drivers don’t report accidents in order to keep their rates from going up.
The rate of increase will differ depending on the insurer and state.
Your insurance company’s policies and state legislation will determine how much more you have to pay for coverage after a car accident. Numerous additional variables are also taken into account, the most important of which are your age, your location, the model of car you drive, and your credit history. Though the majority of insurance companies will, some may decide not to increase your rate at all.
A large number of claims in a short period of time raises serious concerns for insurers. A simple enquiry can change your rates.
The majority of these price hikes will last for at least three years.
How Can I Protect Myself if I Decide to Settle Privately?
Once you’ve decided to settle privately, make sure you have proof that you’re not guilty. The person who has the proof will win in court if the other person only has hearsay. Take pictures of the damaged cars and the accident scene only if you think they may help you.
If they won’t, don’t do anything that could be used against you as proof.
You may also want to call the police. If you end up in court, a police report is the most important piece of evidence you will have. Most of the time, the police will look at the accident scene to figure out who was at fault. At least the police should give you a form called “Driver Exchange of Information.”
But sometimes, the police won’t come if there was no serious damage, and no one was injured.
Don’t worry that the police might tell your insurance company if they do come. Police reports are only given to insurance companies upon a special request. If you were at fault in a car accident, do not try to acquire a police report; it will only serve as evidence against you.
We recommend getting the driver who caused the accident to sign a document that says he or she is sorry and will pay for the damage. In any case, make sure you have all the possible data about the other driver. This includes the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, and policy number.
The case is only half won when an agreement is reached at the scene of the accident.
The situation might change multiple times before you come to a final resolution. It’s crucial to set a deadline. If you have to go to the other driver’s insurance company to make a claim, it will get harder as time goes on.
If you can’t come to an agreement or don’t trust the other person to pay for the damage, you should instantly file a claim with the driver’s insurance company. It’s neither wrong nor illegal to try to figure things out on your own, so no one will hold it against you that you first tried to get your car fixed after an accident without involving insurance companies.
After the Accident is Settled
Especially if it was your fault, there will be some final documentation to fill out when the car is ready to get back on the road again. The person who was at fault will want to make sure that the repairs put an end to the situation.
We advise obtaining a release of claims for car accidents from the other party. By doing this, you will be confident that the other party won’t turn around and demand payment for lost value or any other claim.
Try to avoid signing a release if you were the one hurt and obtain compensation so that you can retain the right to ask for more money, if necessary, later. You probably should call your insurer if you are injured instead of settling the situation privately. After all, there is a reason why we pay for insurance. It serves to lessen our financial losses in the event of an accident.
Most car accident cases are settled without going to court, so the best way to get the most money out of a car accident case is to show the other side that you and your lawyer are ready to take case to trial. Contact us now at 1-800-HURT-511 to receive a free case evaluation from one of our NYC car accident lawyers. We work on a contingency basis, which means you pay nothing unless we win your case.