Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Make sure to gather all of the necessary information as soon as possible at the scene of the accident
  • Call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident, whether or not you were at fault for the accident, to get the claims process started
  • Find out what your auto insurance policy covers you for in an accident
  • If the other driver is at fault for the accident, you will negotiate with the other driver’s auto insurance company
  • Make sure to document all of the negotiations regarding the settlement of your claim

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be a frustrating and time-consuming process.

The more information you are prepared with right out of the gate, the easier of a time you will have negotiating a settlement of your claim, whether it is through your auto insurance company or the other driver’s.

Much of the claim process will depend on establishing which driver was at fault for the accident and how much damage was sustained, either to the cars involved or personal injuries.

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At the Scene of the Accident

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There is vital information that you should gather at the scene of the accident if you are able.

You will need to communicate with the other driver involved directly to get the following:

  • their auto insurance information
  • their driver’s license information
  • their contact information

You may also want to take pictures of the accident scene.

Most importantly, never admit fault at the scene of the accident even if you think you may be partially responsible. These statements could be used against you in a future lawsuit to seek damages from you beyond what your auto insurance company may cover.

If there is damage to another person or vehicle, then you will want to call the police to have an official report of the accident documented. It is important that you not leave the scene of the accident before the police arrive.

Make sure that you get contact information from the police so that you can request a copy of the police report if that becomes necessary.

You do not necessarily have to contact your auto insurance company from the scene of the accident, but you will want to put them on notice and file your claim shortly thereafter.

You can find your insurance company number on the back of your auto insurance card. They will want to take your account of the accident. You should remember that your call will be recorded so you want to be as accurate as possible.

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If the Other Driver Was At Fault for the Accident

If you believe that the other driver was at fault for the accident, then you will be negotiating with the other driver’s auto insurance company to settle your claim. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the other insurance company is trying to help you out.

They are adverse to you because they are trying to pay out as little as possible for your claim. Document all communications in writing, so that you will have a record if you have to take legal action down the line.

Remember that the other insurance company will only pay you for damages that you can prove. So, if you have out-of-pocket expenses for the accident, such as a cab ride home, then you should keep all receipts of those costs.

You should also speak with your own auto insurance company about filing a claim to find out what types of damage may be covered under your own auto insurance policy.

Sometimes, even though it is required under state law, the other driver will not have auto insurance. In fact, the Insurance Research Council estimates that at least one in eight drivers in the U.S. is not covered by auto insurance.

In this case, if you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, then your own policy could kick in to cover the damage you sustained in the accident.

When you are shopping around for auto insurance quotes, ask about the cost of adding this coverage to your auto insurance policy in the event that you are hit by an uninsured driver.

If You Were At Fault for the Accident

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If it is clear that you were at fault for the accident, then the other driver will try to file a claim against your auto insurance policy to cover their damages in the accident.

If this happens, your auto insurance company will assess the damages to the other driver’s vehicle and any personal injuries.

The damage to the other driver’s car and any personal injuries will be covered by your auto liability policy. If you only have the state required minimum auto liability coverage, it is highly possible that the cost of the damages in the accident will exceed your policy limits.

Your auto insurance company will likely offer up to your policy limits to the other driver in order to settle the claim.

Even if your auto insurance company pays up to your policy limits, the other driver may still be entitled to additional damages based on the extent of the damage. In this case, the other driver may decide to sue you personally to recover the remaining damages.

If you are determined to be responsible for the accident, you will be forced to pay out of pocket for the damages that the other driver is entitled to, which can be incredibly expensive.

While no one wants to think about having to deal with the aftermath of an auto accident, this is a scenario that you should definitely consider when you are shopping around for auto insurance quotes.

You should make sure that your auto liability coverage is high enough that you will not have to pay out of pocket and face financial hardship if you are found to be responsible for a car accident.

What to do When Your Auto Insurance Company Does Not Settle Your Claim from an Auto Accident

Dealing with an auto accident is frustrating enough without having to deal with an auto insurance company that refuses to be reasonable in settlement negotiations after a claim is filed.

This exact scenario is why it is so important to do your homework when shopping around for an auto insurance company to make sure that they have a good reputation for customer service and handling claims.

Simply getting the best rate is not the only reason to choose an auto insurance company.

The first step in negotiating successfully with your auto insurance company is to document all of your communications and keep careful records of the details of your claim.

There may even be a consumer complaint department through your auto insurance company to help you obtain more immediate assistance in the resolution of your claim.

It is crucial that you follow up with all of the requests for information from your insurance company and respond within all of the required deadlines.

If you find that you are still having difficulty in getting your auto insurance company to honor the terms of your policy, then you should consider contacting the department of insurance for your state.

They may be able to guide you through the process of filing a complaint against your auto insurance company and direct you to legal resources in the event that you seek to file a legal claim against your auto insurance company.

Contacting an attorney may be the last resort in attempting to get your auto insurance company to reach an agreeable resolution of your claim after an accident.

If you do decide to retain an attorney, you should get a copy of the fee agreement in writing before you proceed with taking action for your claim.

If you need help finding an attorney to file suit against your auto insurance company, your state bar association may be able to give you a list or contact information for attorneys who have experience in handling these types of cases.

If your case involves serious personal injuries, then this is a further reason to consider retaining an attorney because the stakes are so much higher than just damage to a vehicle.

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Dealing with Auto Insurance After an Accident

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How your claim after an auto accident is handled depends on which driver was at fault for the crash. If you were at fault, the other driver will negotiate with your auto insurance company to pay for their damages from the accident.

If the other driver was at fault, you will need to negotiate with their auto insurance company.

In either scenario, if your claim cannot be resolved successfully, you may need to consult with a lawyer to protect yourself from paying out of pocket or to make sure you recover what you are entitled to after an auto accident.

Make sure you’re prepared for an accident with adequate protection. Compare top insurers right now by entering your zip code below.