The Proper Way To File A Car Accident Report

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She works as an associate editor and writer for for over a year and enjoys creating content that offers expert advice on car insurance topics.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs...

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Reviewed byLeslie Kasperowicz
Former Farmers Insurance CSR

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Chances are, if you are driving a vehicle in the Untied States, you will be involved in a car accident at some point in your lifetime.  In fact, statistics show that one in every eight drivers will be involved in an accident this year.  The accident will either be your fault or it won’t be, but no matter what, you need to know what steps to take when it occurs.

How Do You File An Accident Report?

Immediately after the accident, you need to try your best to stay calm and compose yourself.  You may be late for work, injured, or worried about the consequences of the accident, but by staying calm, you will be able to have the accident reporting process get underway as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Car accident report filingProbably the most important step is actually the first step, and that involves contacting the police (by calling 911 or any other emergency phone number).  The reason contacting the police is so important is because it invites a “mediator” into the situation and guides the process along.  By having a police officer involved, it also helps to avoid any discrepancies that might come up in the insurance claims filing process.

The officer will start by interviewing you about the accident, getting your insurance/contact information, gathering evidence, and recording the events in his log.  He will also interview the driver of the other vehicle and also will interview witnesses that happen to be at the scene of the accident.  While the officer is still at the scene, you should ask him for his card so that you have his name and contact information.  If you need to contact him later for any reason, this information will be important for you to have.

After the police officer decides that he has enough information about the car accident, he will submit the information to the police station.  This paperwork detailing the events of the accident will be made available to you as soon as the police process it at their office.  You can usually pick it up within 1-2 days (your insurance provider may require it).

Immediately following the accident, you should contact your insurance company.  The sooner the insurance company knows about the accident, the better.  They can also help you throughout the accident reporting and claims process.  The faster you notify your insurance company, the faster you will be able to resolve your claim (if need be).

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Why Do You Need To File A Report?

It is always recommended that you submit an accident report following an accident.  This is the case even with small, minor accidents.  Depending on what state you live in, it may even be required by law to report an accident to the police.

As stated above, if you don’t file a report, discrepancies might even start to appear.  By having a police officer there at the scene to report on the events, the chances of this occurring decrease.  The police officer will act as an unbiased party when he makes his/her report, thus limiting the probability of the other party or passengers falsifying the details of the accident.

The police report of an accident will also help your insurance company better piece the puzzle together.  By having an accident report to refer to, your claim filing process will be much less painful and your payment will be issued faster.

Accident Reporting Recap 

Immediately following the accident, you should follow these steps:

  1. Stay Calm – Compose yourself as it will help you stay in control and allow the reporting process to go smoothly.  Make sure you and your passengers are OK and pull off to the side of the road to make sure you are not blocking traffic or putting yourself in further danger.
  2. Call The Police – Call 911 or whatever the police phone number may be in your area.
  3. File The Report – Talk to the police officer and the other party involved in the accident.  File your report and collect all information needed (insurance information, contact information).
  4. Report The Claim With Your Insurance Agency – The sooner your insurance company knows about the accident, the sooner they will be able to make a payout on your claim and help you.

Now that you know what steps to take if you are involved in an accident, the one thing for you to do now is to make sure you have proper insurance coverage.  Possibly even more of a headache than getting into an accident is getting into an accident without insurance or without enough insurance.  The last thing you want to do if you get into an accident is to worry about paying for damages out of pocket.  To find affordable auto insurance, start by scrolling up to the top of this page and filling out our form.  We will connect you to the top insurance providers and present you with the cheapest quotes from them.

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