According to car industry experts, you’ll be involved in a car accident once every 17.9 years, which means an estimated three to four accidents in your lifetime. Whether the accident is small or large, you may wonder if you have to file a police report and if you don’t, can you file an insurance claim?
Are you Required to File a Police Report?
Whether or not you have to file a police report depends on where you live. Some states have strict laws regarding when you should file a police report while others are a bit more relaxed. Know your state’s laws when deciding if you should or shouldn’t file a report.
Should you File a Police Report?
Putting the law aside, you should think long and hard about skipping the police report. Sure, if everyone seems fine and the damage seems minimal, it may seem okay to just go about without calling the police. But what happens the next day or a few days down the road when the other person involved in the accident decides to change the story? Even if everyone seemed nice and on the same page at the scene, things can change drastically when you don’t have the report to back you up.
Is the Police Report Necessary for Insurance?
In general, you don’t need a police report to file an insurance claim. In rare instances when there was a crime committed or a hit and run incident, insurance companies will require that police evidence, but otherwise, it’s not needed.
However, just because the insurance company doesn’t require the police input doesn’t mean they don’t want it or that it won’t make things easier on you. When it comes down to pointing blame and figuring out who is responsible for the damages, that report comes in very handy. There’s less to question and more facts to use when determining who should pay for the damages.
Other Ways Insurance Companies Determine Fault
If there isn’t a police report, insurance companies have a few other ways that they can gather information:
- Eyewitnesses – If anyone witnessed the accident and provides you with their information, share it with the insurance company. An eyewitness can give a recount of the incident and possibly even share videos or pictures of it.
- Drivers – Even though both drivers are typically biased, each driver can give his or her side of the story. It’s then up to the insurance company to decipher who is responsible for what and see if the stories line up.
The Police Report Speeds Things Up
When there’s a police report for an accident, there’s no question about what happened. It includes the necessary details including:
- The weather at the time of the accident
- The circumstances surrounding it
- Any other information that the insurance company and interested parties may need
Without the police report, the insurance company has to weed through information provided to them by a variety of sources. This could slow the claims process down, which means you have to wait to get your car fixed or if you do get it fixed, you’ll have to wait for reimbursement.
While you can file an auto insurance claim without a police report, it’s often to your benefit to have one. If you’re involved in an accident that has damages and potential injuries, figure that you’ll need to file a claim and having that piece of paper from an authoritative third party can help speed the process along.Get the right insurance coverage.