Every year, American insurance companies pay out more than $170 billion in auto insurance claims.
If you’re involved in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. But a big component of getting that compensation is ensuring you have an accident report.
An accident report isn’t required for all accidents, but it’s in your best interest to have one regardless of the severity of the incident. Understanding why that is means understanding what an accident report is, when you need one, and how it can benefit you.
Keep reading to learn all of that and more.
What Is an Accident Report?
An accident report refers to one of two things.
First, it may refer to the report that police fill out at the scene of an accident. You’ll need to ask the police where you can obtain a copy. This report is only meant to serve as a record of the car accident (and for a whole other type of accident record, check out these articles).
Second, an accident report may refer to the accident claim that’s filed with an insurance company after an accident. To file this claim, you’ll need a police accident report.
Do I Need to Fill Out an Accident Report?
Whether or not you need to file a police accident report depends on the state in which you live. To know for sure, you can check your state’s traffic laws.
In general, though, a police accident report isn’t required for minor accidents in most states. In Ohio and Nevada, individuals involved in a car accident are required to file a report regardless of the severity (i.e. including minor accidents and fender benders). Other than in those states, you’ll only need a police accident report for accidents wherein there was substantial property damage, personal injury, or wrongful death.
The Benefits of Filling Out an Accident Report
Even though it may not be required, it’s always in your best interest to fill out a police accident report. There are two main reasons for this.
The extent of the physical and medical damage caused by an accident is not always known at the time of the accident. It’s quite common for injuries and loss to present in the days following the incident.
You can never be sure what the other party or parties involved in the accident will say or do after the accident. It’s critical to have those details accurately recorded by the police.
Without a police accident report, insurance claims can become complicated. It may be more difficult to get medical expenses other damage covered if the other party denies your story, for example.
What Information Do You Need?
As far as the police report is concerned, the police will question everyone involved in the accident. They’ll fill in the report with those details. You should, however, ask them for their name, badge number, and report number.
If you can do so safely, collect photos of the accident as well as any injuries. You should always exchange essential information with the other driver as well. Ask for their full name, their insurance company, and policy number.
More Helpful Advice
An accident report isn’t always a requirement after an accident. But it’s always in your best interest to get one in order to back up your insurance claim. You can get a copy of the report from the police who arrive at the scene but be sure to ask for the additional information as well.
And for more helpful advice like this be sure to check back regularly.