4 min read
Here's what to do when you're in a fender bender or minor car accident.
You come to a complete stop behind a long line of cars. The orange cones tell you there’s construction up the road. You hear a crunch as you lurch forward.
You’ve won three prizes from the Car Wreck Sweepstakes:
- An awkward conversation with the guy who left a dent in your bumper.
- A visit from law enforcement.
- A chat with your insurance company.
How to Handle a Fender Bender
Your biggest question might be, “Do I have to report this?” The answer is, “Well, that depends.”
According to NOLO, state laws dictate what you should report to the police.
Some states require you to report accidents that:
- Cause injuries
- Result in $1,000 or more of vehicle damage
Don’t think twice about calling the police, even after a small fender bender. The officer creates a police report to document the accident, so don’t spare any details. Ask for a copy of this report or a number so you can look it up later.
Encourage pedestrians or drivers to stay for a few minutes if they saw what happened. The accident might not be your fault, but the driver who ran into you could think differently.
Even with an officer present, you should take pictures of the damage and the scene of the accident. You never know when that might come in handy down the road.
Don’t forget to exchange information with the other driver (or drivers) involved in the accident.
They should give you their:
- First and last name
- Mailing address
- Phone number
- Vehicle make, model, and color
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance policy information, including insurance company and policy number
What if the Other Driver Leaves the Scene?
The other driver might speed away from the scene. They might not have insurance. Or, they could be driving on a suspended license.
Try to get the car’s make, model, and license plate number immediately after the accident. If you have enough time, write this information in a text message and send it to yourself.
Don’t Forget to Call the Insurance Company
Some insurance companies require you to report any damage or accident that happens to your car. This could be in the language of your auto insurance policy, so talk to your agent to confirm this.
Keep in mind, reporting the accident and filing a claim are two different things. You want your insurance company to know about the fender bender because the other driver might not have coverage.
If you file a claim, you’re asking the insurance company to pay for vehicle repairs after you cover your deductible.
Are There Other Minor Damages You Should Report?
You’re not always driving when you notice damage to your vehicle.
You should consider filing a report with the police and a claim with your insurance company when:
- Your car is parked and unoccupied. Another car backs into you, but the driver doesn’t leave a note.
- You walk to your car after you finish your work day. You notice a big ding in the driver’s side front door that wasn’t there before.
- You finish your shopping trip and return to your car. As you load your groceries into the vehicle, you notice a large scrape on the passenger side left by a shopping cart.
It’s never a bad idea to review these scenarios with your agent so you always know the best plan of action.
Let's say you need to file a claim. What happens next?
If you have auto coverage through Pekin Insurance, dial 888-735-4611 to reach our P&C Claim Department.
As you describe the damage to your vehicle, your claim representative might mention FlashFix, which is a web app used for low-impact, low-damage claims such as fender benders.
If your claim qualifies for FlashFix, you receive a link from the claim representative. You click the link, follow a few prompts, and take photos of your vehicle. You send the photos to your claim representative, who creates an estimate for you to view in FlashFix.
Plus, FlashFix can be used in conjunction with our Pekin Preferred Auto Body Network, which puts you in touch with an auto repair shop that guarantees their work.
Pekin Insurance uses FlashFix to reduce the time you spend waiting for your auto claim to be resolved. FlashFix is free for all of our auto policyholders, too!
Contact a local Pekin Insurance agent to put budget-friendly auto insurance in place.