Do I need to report an accident to my insurance?
March 3, 2012 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I got in a minor fender-bender and got a ticket - will my insurance company find out about it if I don't report it?

I live in Illinois. I rear-ended a car very lightly - virtually no visible damage beyond a scratch or two on the other car; no damage to mine. A police officer just happened to be there so I got a ticket for failure to reduce speed. I also didn't have my most current insurance so I got ticketed for that. But my insurance info didn't get put on the police report.

The guy I hit never got out of his car to look at his back bumper (even the cop agreed the guy was acting a bit strange) so I've had no contact with him. I called and left a message to find out what he wants to do but he doesn't return my calls. Since my insurance isn't on the report and he doesn't have my policy number, if he doesn't get back to me, can I just not report this? Assuming I get the tickets dropped in court, is there any way my insurance would find out about the incident?
posted by boognish to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Of course you should report it. The cop has your driver's license and presumably your license plate number; there's any number of ways to tie those data to your car insurance policy.
posted by dfriedman at 1:08 PM on March 3, 2012

I work at an insurance company and I would not report it under those circumstances.
posted by Maisie at 1:11 PM on March 3, 2012

If you get the ticket cleared (or put on deferred adjudication) then there's no reason to tell anyone. If you're found guilty on the ticket, your insurance company will find out about it anyway.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:12 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you are not making a claim, why would you ever report it?
posted by Ardiril at 1:13 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used to work for an insurance company as an adjuster. Technically, most insurance companies require for you to report automobile accidents to them as part of your agreement to be insured (they want to be able to assess this for risk purposes), and usually promptly. They are more resourceful than most people think in terms of getting this kind of information, but it does not mean that they will go looking, unless they have a good reason to. If you don't report it and they find out, technically some policies can deny coverage.

That being said, however, I'd find it very unlikely in a situation where there is little to no exposure potential, there would be a punitive reaction against you for not reporting. But to give you an idea regarding what insurance companies are concerned about, they worry that in a situation where you are technically "at fault," the other person could file for medical damages. This sounds ridiculous to you and me in light of how minor your accident was, but I've seen cases where very minor accidents are dragged out for medical checkups and such, and they tend to cost more money the longer the case is open. So they like to get on that quickly, if possible.

If you call and report the claim, they will try to contact the person in the other car. If they can get ahold of him, they'll try to give him a little bit to settle the claim, either for minor damages, inconvenience, or "neck pain" (this is a pretty common complaint). Then they can close the case. The fact that the other person has acted so strangely makes me wonder if he's already thinking about pursuing this with his insurance company, at which time his insurance company will contact yours, which they can get just from your license plate. Even if you think this is unlikely, if it is the case that this happens, it's better to be safe and proactive rather than sorry.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:29 PM on March 3, 2012

I ended up getting a hold of the guy - he reported it to his insurance, so I filed my claim as well. Goes to show you never assume.
posted by boognish at 4:05 PM on March 4, 2012

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