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March 17, 2010 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Minor, minor car accident. Other driver left the scene. No damage to my car. Is there any reason that I should report this to my insurance agency?

I was involved in a really minor car accident the other day. My car and I are totally fine. Because the other driver left the scene and I couldn't see if there was any damage to their car, I'm planning on mailing in a police report with the details.

Do I need to make a claim with my insurance agency at the same time? Like I said, my car's fine and doesn't need repairs. If the other driver tracks me down and needs repairs, I'm fine with getting my insurance involved then-- but is it necessary now? I'm in Massachusetts and have Geico insurance.
posted by oinopaponton to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
IANYL, but unless you're going to claim it there is no reason for you to report it.
posted by micawber at 9:08 AM on March 17, 2010

My paranoid worry would be that the other car would accuse you of doing a hit and run. But if the other car doesn't have your information, then you should be fine.
posted by anniecat at 9:12 AM on March 17, 2010

My paranoid worry would be that the other car would accuse you of doing a hit and run.

That's why I want to report it. It was kind of a rush hour traffic thing, and they could plausibly have taken down my license plate number (although I guess if they really cared, they would have followed me to a safe place to stop).
posted by oinopaponton at 9:13 AM on March 17, 2010

I think you're on the right track -- report it to the police, but do not contact your insurance company.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:19 AM on March 17, 2010

Yeah, then I would say mail in your report asap. I'm sure it will all be fine.
posted by anniecat at 9:23 AM on March 17, 2010

What sort of accident? Are we talking a < 5mph bumper-to-bumper collision? I've bumped and been bumped in traffic all the time, and usually I just wave the other guy off in a "hey, don't worry about it" manner since, hey, that's what bumpers are for and it's not like I have a Ferrari.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:56 AM on March 17, 2010

There's no reason to talk to insurance about it. Even if the other driver turns up with a damage claim you should probably evaluate the cost before getting them involved.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:07 AM on March 17, 2010

I understand not wanting to report this to your insurance company, since they are total douches and will probably raise your rates or cancel you. But your insurance contract says you have to report all accidents. And in the event that the other driver contacts you later, and you decide to report it at that time, you run the risk of your insurance company denying your/their claim because you failed to comply with the contract, after which they will then raise your rates or cancel you, because, as I said, they are total douches.

So if you decide not to report now, and you think there's a chance the other driver might come back, you might want to budget up to $1,000 or so, so you can handle the whole thing off the books. Once off the books, forever off the books. And pray they don't report an injury.

For you to file a police report but not report it to your insurance company will basically tell your insurer that you were involved in a reportable incident and you knew it, but chose not to report it. This will fuel and reinforce all their evil insurance company tactics. If the incident was as innocuous as you say, and there were really, as far as you know, no damages, don't file nothing. No police report, no nothing.

IANAL and TINLA. I am a former commercial auto claims adjuster.

BTW you don't say whether the police or witnesses attended the scene, or whose fault the incident appeared to be, or whether the incident occurred on a city street or parking lot. All these things matter in your decision.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:11 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding toodleydoodley. Your accident didn't happen in a vaccum and you have no idea what the other party will do, if they will try and come after you for something days or even months from now. If you don't report the accident, and then later tell the insurance carrier you didn't report it when it happened, you will be out of compliance with your agreement and they may choose not to defend you/pay any claims/etc because you breached.

The bottom line is that you are supposed to report accidents or damage, period. This is to preserve your coverage. Remember, your insurance company just doesn't fix your dented car, they will also defend you in court should it come to that.

If you're concerned about your rates going up because you report something like this, keep in mind that there's a zillion companies out there willing to cover you (so long as you are a relatively safe driver, don't have 12 DUIs, etc). Take an afternoon and call around for quotes if you need to. It's very competitive and you might be surprised at the results.

posted by FergieBelle at 10:23 AM on March 17, 2010

Ugh, whatever, I just reported it. I'd rather deal with a little headache now than have any weaknesses in my case if the guy turns out to be a psycho. Thanks for the advice.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:35 AM on March 17, 2010

My brother-in-law was rear-ended (or slightly tapped on rear bumper) in Boston. No damage to either party and both drivers were fine with no passenger in either car.

About year later the other driver made claims for neck injuries -- for himself and number of other passengers. Insurance company made it go away without payments, but it was a hassle.
posted by zeikka at 11:58 AM on March 17, 2010

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