Report a car accident to insurance When you’ve been involved in an auto accident, you may wonder whether or not you have to report the accident to your insurance company. Some people think they don’t have to report minor claims if it seems like there has been no damage or that it’s unnecessary to report accidents that aren’t their fault. Is it ok to skip reporting an accident to your insurer?

Reporting an Accident to Your Insurance Company

Carrying auto insurance isn’t just the law; it’s there to protect you and your vehicle in case of an accident. Some people think that if they get into a minor accident or if a crash isn’t their fault they don’t need to report it to insurance. This is not only untrue; it can get you into trouble with the law, your insurance company, or both. For example, in Virginia, drivers are required to report all accidents that result in injury or death.

Types of Auto Insurance

  • Liability. Every state that requires you to carry “insurance” means, at minimum, you must carry “liability” insurance. This protects you in the event you are responsible for injuries or damages to other people or their property in an accident.
  • Collision. While not required in every state, collision insurance helps pay for damages/injuries to you and your vehicle in the event of an accident when you are at fault. Leased vehicle contracts often require carrying collision coverage.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist. This type of insurance is designed to help pay for damages or injuries when you are in a crash caused by another person if that person does not have insurance or if their insurance limits are inadequate to compensate for your damages.

We recommend that even minor accidents, with no apparent damages or injuries at the time of the crash, should be reported to the police in case the other driver decides to file a personal injury lawsuit after the fact. 

You should also report every accident to your insurance company. It may be a requirement per your policy. If you are in violation, they can discontinue your coverage, making it difficult to find a new carrier.

What to Do After an Accident

  • Call 911 to document the crash and file a police report. 
  • Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s).
  • Take photographs of all vehicles involved in the crash.
  • Keep quiet. Don’t say things like, “This wasn’t my fault,” or get into an argument or debate with the other driver about how the accident happened. 
  • Consider seeking medical attention even if you feel “fine.” 
  • Contact a car accident lawyer to protect your rights.

Even if someone else is clearly at fault for the crash, do not contact the other person’s insurance company. Their best interest is minimizing their company’s liability and protecting their insured. They do not have your best interests at heart. If you are contacted by the other party’s insurance company, you should hire an accident attorney who can handle conversations and negotiations with insurance so you don’t say or do the wrong thing.

Protecting Your Rights

Some vehicle damage or personal injuries, yours or theirs, may not be apparent at the time of an accident. Even if another person seems to be at fault, their insurance company or lawyer could try to come after you later to cover not only the damage to their vehicle but also medical expenses.

Experienced Virginia accident lawyers know the tactics and negotiations that insurance companies and other lawyers may try after a crash to keep their costs down. If their insured is at fault, they may pressure you to try to accept a settlement quickly so they can close the case with minimal cost. This may not be in your best interest.

Recovering Damages after an Accident

Fair accident recovery costs (damages) can include not only the cost of repairs to your vehicle but also the recovery of all costs related to medical treatment for injuries sustained due to the crash. This can include doctor appointments, urgent care or ER charges, medical equipment, therapy, lost wages from missed time at work, and costs to compensate for pain and suffering.

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Working with Andrew and his team has been--without exception--one of the most pleasant, productive, and professional experiences of my adult life. I was seriously injured in an accident in July, 2018, in Virginia. I was driving a company vehicle that was registered in Maryland, for a company that was based in Wisconsin. And I live in New Jersey, where my personal vehicles are insured. The several jurisdictions involved presented a very unique case that demanded an experienced and nuanced strategy. I found Andrew Thomas (of Dulaney, Lauer, & Thomas) through some online research. And it is noteworthy that Andrew has worked the other side of the aisle--he used to work with insurance companies. Andrew took on my case with the assurance that he would work it with no less energy than he does each of his cases. At each turn, and with each question I had, Andrew and Paralegal Misty kept me informed, returned my calls, provided detailed explanations, and kept me feeling like I was in the loop and there was an eventual end to our journey. Nearly five years after the accident, we settled out of court for a significant sum in recognition of my personal injuries. The settlement was much more than I had expected. And without Andrew & Misty, I am sure the award would have been much less. If you are looking for professionalism, knowledge, dedication, answerability, responsiveness, integrity, and human-level communication from a personal injury attorney--look no further. You have found him. Thank you, Andrew and Misty. Gary Daley
I'm grateful for all your work . . . Roger V. (Remington, VA)