Automobile accidents can result in a multitude of inconveniences, such as vehicle damage and ensuing repairs, deductibles, increased insurance premiums and endless paperwork. In instances in which another driver is obviously at fault, you may prefer to file a claim on the other driver's insurance policy (known as a third-party claim), thereby avoiding payment of a deductible and higher premium rates on your own insurance policy. There are several simple, yet important, steps to take when filing a third-party claim.
Contact your local police to file an accident report as soon as possible.
Acquire as much information from the other driver as possible, including full name, phone number, address, insurance company, policy number, phone number of insurance company and license plate number.
Gather statements, in writing if possible, from anyone on the scene who may have witnessed the accident. Be sure to take note of names and valid contact information.
Write a description of the accident while the details are still fresh in your mind.
Take photographs of any damage to the vehicle that occurred as a result of the accident.
Request a hard copy of the accident report from the police department for your own personal files or in case it is required for claim purposes.
Access the link provided in the Resources section for information regarding accident laws specific to your state.
Contact the insurance company of the other driver to file a claim. Offer any available information and documentation requested by the insurance company. Record the claim number for reference during future communication.
Maintain complete records of the incident including the accident report, witness statements, photographs and written communication from the insurance company. It may be helpful to keep a log of verbal communication or attempted communication between you and the insurance company.
You may choose to have vehicle damages assessed by your own adjuster or mechanic in case of an unsatisfactory settlement offer by the insurance company. Protect your rights in the case of personal injury or excessive property damage resulting from an auto accident by consulting an attorney.
Refrain from making statements at the scene of the accident that may be interpreted as acceptance of liability. This includes well-intentioned apologies. Allow the insurance company to determine liability from the facts of the accident.