You have just been involved in a minor fender bender. Maybe the vehicles appear to have little or no damage. Everyone seems to be fine and no one sustained any major injuries. What do you do now? Should you report the accident to your insurance company or just settle it amongst yourselves?
It is quite common for drivers to agree to fix their own vehicles or pay to fix each others when a fender bender occurs. Insurance companies have a reputation for raising your insurance rate at the drop of a hat. It is no wonder that car owners are scared to report a small accident. But the factors that determine whether or not to report a fender bender can become quite complicated and have unforeseen outcomes.
Carla, a former insurance company employee, suggested that minor fender benders that resulted in no injuries could be settled privately so as not to cause a rate hike for the drivers. Provided that the vehicle damage was not significantly more than your deductible, this would be a more affordable way to handle the accident. You are going to have to pay the deductible amount for a reported accident and also face the chance of increased premiums for several years. So, handling it on your own may seem like the way to go.
You should probably check with your insurance agent or review your policy to see exactly what your are required to report. Some insurance companies require reporting of all accidents, regardless of severity or cost to property or person. Companies are even offering accident forgiveness, for a fee; that guarantees your insurance won’t increase if you are involved in an accident. You should check all the conditions to determine what parameters must be met and if the cost is really worth it to you. As a driver who has never had an at-fault accident, I would probably not opt for the additional cost of accident forgiveness.
The real concern with not reporting a fender bender would be the unseen damage that could be caused. Ilene was involved in a fender bender that resulted in a very small amount of damage to either car. Another vehicle rear ended the car she was a passenger in and no damage was clearly visible, so both drivers agreed to take care of their own costs, if any. The next morning it was apparent that Ilene had suffered a neck injury. Though minor, it did result in multiple doctor visits and a neck brace. Because neither driver had reported the incident to police or their insurance companies, their policies refused to pay for the medical costs she incurred. Failing to report a fender bender to your insurance company leaves you with no recourse later on if there is a similar situation for you.
MSNBC, Fender Bender Claim: To File or Not To File
Insurance Agent, Joanna Boothe