Failing to inform your auto insurance provider right away after a crash could result in any future claim being denied. That’s why it’s important to inform your insurance company about any collision as soon as you can, even if it was a minor accident that wasn’t your fault.
Why Do I Need to Tell My Insurance If the Other Driver Was At-Fault?
When you’re injured in a car crash, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance is supposed to pay for your damages, including your medical bills. But when the other driver doesn’t have enough or any insurance, then you might need to use your own insurance to pay, like your underinsured motorist coverage.
In Georgia, the courts have been harsh and ruled that coverage can be waived if your OWN insurance company does not have WRITTEN notice of a potential claim, and maybe in as little as 6 months after the wreck.
How Soon Do I Have to Notify My Insurance?
Make sure to look at your insurance policy, which will typically tell you how long you have to inform them of a crash (and a potential claim needing to be filed).
Most insurers require notice “promptly.” Due to its vagueness, this allows leeway on how much time you have, which can be interpreted as within up to 30 days of the crash. However, some insurers require notice within a specific timeframe, which can be as soon as 24-72 hours after the crash. Your policy language will tell you if there is a specific deadline in which you need to report the collision.
However, we recommend reporting a crash sooner rather than later. You don’t want your insurance company to first learn about your crash from the other driver who is making a claim against you and stating that you were at fault. And if your insurance tells you that you waited too long to tell them, you should call a lawyer IMMEDIATELY. Our personal injury firm has had success getting compensation for clients even after the insurance company told them they would not pay because they didn’t report in time. Sometimes, insurance company adjusters say this without legal authority so they can get away with not paying on a legitimate claim. But when our lawyers push back, we have found that they usually give way.
It’s important to remember that notifying your insurer about a crash is NOT the same thing as filing a claim. You do not have to file a claim at the same time as reporting a crash, and just because you’ve reported your crash doesn’t mean you’ve already filed a claim.
In addition to notifying your insurer, you also have to notify the police of your wreck if it involved another vehicle and resulted in property damage or injuries.
Will My Insurance Rates Go Up After I Report a Crash?
Unless you were at fault for the crash or intend to file a claim, simply reporting a collision typically will not cause your insurance rates to increase.
How Long Do I Have to Notify Police After a Crash?
Typically, drivers are legally required to notify police after a crash if there were any injuries or damage.
In Alabama, drivers must inform police of a crash within 30 days. In Georgia, police must be informed immediately (usually they must be called from the scene of the crash).
What Do I Need to Tell My Insurer?
You do not need to tell your auto insurance provider anything besides that a crash occurred, along with:
- When and where it happened (date, time, and street/intersection)
- Who was involved
- If there was any property damage or injuries (this can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”)
You don’t need to provide any details about what happened or how it happened, and you shouldn’t try to. DO NOT admit fault or give a statement, especially a recorded statement, until after you’ve spoken with a lawyer.
What If I Waited Too Long to Report a Crash?
If your insurance provider listed a specific time frame in which you needed to report a crash, they may no longer be contractually required to provide you with compensation for your damages. Likewise, if the other driver decides to file a lawsuit against you, your insurance may no longer be required to hire a lawyer to defend you, and you could be forced to pay all the other driver’s damages out of your own pocket.
If they did not list a specific time frame, you may still be able to file a claim, but it will be harder to get your claim approved since it will also be harder to prove that the crash happened when and how you say it did.
For example, imagine a scenario where Driver A and Driver B get into a minor fender bender, but because there was no significant damage, they both agree not to report it. Two weeks later, Driver B accidentally backs into a pole in a parking lot, but they call their insurance company and blame the damage on the collision with Driver A. Now Driver A is on the hook for damage they did not cause but can’t prove it.
It’s because of these bad actors that insurance companies become suspicious of crashes that are reported many days later. If they think they have legitimate reasons to be suspicious of your claim, they may be able to deny it outright.
When your insurance company tries to deny your claim because of a delay in reporting a crash, a lawyer may be able to help.
Have Questions after a Crash? Contact Gary Bruce
At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, our Columbus personal injury lawyers are proud to offer completely free initial consultations with no obligation to hire, and if you do decide to hire our firm, you don’t pay anything unless you win your claim.
This means that no one can be shut out of the legal services they need because of financial difficulties, which are only made worse by injuries and car crashes caused by other people’s carelessness.
After a wreck that wasn’t your fault, call our team today to discuss your options.