Accident car not mine had no insurance
- Gather necessary information
- Notify the right people
- Pick your battles wisely
- If all else fails, look to your insurer
- Understand your injury coverage
- Can't work? Totaled car? Get paid
- Rent reasonably
- Know what you deserve
- Making a claim if you're in an accident
- If the driver is uninsured or can’t be identified
- Repairing your vehicle
- If your car is a write-off
- Minor damage to older cars
- Next steps
- Other useful information
Dealing with your car insurance company after a crash can be a time-consuming hassle. Now imagine what it's like to deal with the insurance company of a person you don’t know who crashed into your car.
Here are some tips to ensure you maintain your cool — and your sanity — when making a claim with someone else’s insurer, known as a third-party claim.
Gather necessary information
The driver who crashes into your car is responsible for reporting the accident to his or her car insurance company. However, make sure you contact their insurer as well. Motorists who cause accidents are often reluctant to report them.
It’s vital to get complete information on the other party at the accident scene. Collect the following:
- Other driver's name and address
- Other driver's insurance company name and policy information
- Statements and contact information from witnesses
- Take pictures of the accident scene -- most smartphone cameras are suitable.
This way, you'll have evidence gathered at the scene to bolster your position on the cause of the accident. Check to see if your car insurance company has a mobile app that can help you document the accident while at the scene. Some of the best car insurance companies have apps that come with an accident checklist and tell you how to best gather information so you can make a claim with it or the other party’s insurer.
In addition, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ free smartphone WreckCheck App can help you collect and exchange the right information.
Notify the right people
You should then inform the other person's insurer that you have been involved in a crash with one of its policyholders. Relay only the facts of the accident, even if you believe the other driver to be at fault.
The police will determine who is at fault for ticketing purposes. Independently, the insurer will make its own determination of fault, which may or may not match law enforcement’s assessment of fault. The insurer will take into account items such as the police report, driver and witness statements and physical evidence. (Here's more on what to do after a car accident.)
Although you may feel that you have not caused the accident, you should contact your insurance company anyway. This establishes your good-faith accident-reporting effort and can aid you if the other party's insurer denies responsibility for the accident and you need to make a collision claim.
Theoretically, you should only have to notify the other party's insurer of your damages and injuries, take your car to a body shop, visit a doctor and expect the insurer to pay your bills.
But theories don't always reflect reality. Car insurance companies may demand that you obtain their authorization before proceeding with vehicle repairs and injury treatments. If the insurance adjuster doesn't authorize a repair before you take it to the auto shop, it can create a problem. At minimum, make certain that the insurance company has accepted liability before going ahead with repairs. Get that authorization in writing. Ask the insurer to email it to you.
Remember that an insurance company can't force you to take your vehicle to a specific repair facility. Most states allow auto insurers to recommend auto body shops but they aren't allowed to demand you use a certain repair facility. The choice is yours.
Pick your battles wisely
The at-fault driver's insurer may tell you to seek payment from your own insurer because it has no evidence of its policyholder's fault. Although most states have made it illegal for an insurer to deny claims without reasonably investigating the facts, or to deny claims when its liability is reasonably clear, you may not want to fight the other person's insurance company.
If you make a claim with your insurer, it might choose to fight the other insurance company for compensation if it finds other driver is at fault.
If you decide to fight the at-fault driver's insurer on your own you'll need a lawyer — especially if you've been seriously injured. An attorney can help you navigate the sometimes-murky laws that govern insurance. But keep in mind that if you hire an attorney, he will take a cut of any settlement he helps you get.
You may have evidence of the other driver's fault — maybe he even admitted it at the scene — yet you find your claim denied by his auto insurance company. Why? Because he probably told a version of how the accident happened that doesn't square with yours. His insurer may stand behind that story in order to avoid paying your claim.
Sometimes the insurance company will take its policyholder's position, even if it contradicts the police report.
It not unusual for companies to take their policyholder's side in cases where no police accident report was made and fault isn’t obvious. In many states, if an officer at an accident scene determines the damage is minimal (usually less than $500), he or she will not file an accident report. Body shop estimates for that same accident, however, might run into the thousands of dollars. Take your car to a repair shop so you can determine the extent of the damage.
If it's a small claim, you can take the other driver to small claims court. Otherwise, you may need a lawyer. Insurance companies know that unless you've hired an attorney, the longer the matter drags on, the more likely you are to compromise or simply go away.
If all else fails, look to your insurer
Even if you're not at fault, you can make a claim with your insurance company for payment of damages and injuries -- if you have the right coverages.
If you have collision insurance, file a claim with your own carrier. It will pay for the cost of repairs or total loss of your vehicle. If you take this approach, you will have to pay your collision deductible toward repairs. However, you may get that money back if your insurer is able to settle with the other driver's insurance company.
If it turns out the other driver is uninsured and you have uninsured motorist coverage property damage (UMPD), you can make a claim for your vehicle’s damage. There is no deductible for UMPD claims.
Your car insurance rates aren't necessarily going to increase at renewal time if you make a claim under your own insurance policy for an accident that wasn't your fault.
Most state laws prohibit insurers from surcharging policyholders or raising their premium rates for accidents in which they weren't at fault. However, those laws do not preclude your insurer from dumping your policy at renewal time if you've made a few recent claims of any type.
Understand your injury coverage
Can't work? Totaled car? Get paid
If you miss work because of an injury you sustained in a car crash that was someone else's fault, you can expect that person's insurance company to pay for your lost wages. But their policy will have a limit on the amount you can recoup for lost wages.
If you're hit by a driver whose liability limits are not high enough to cover all of your medical expenses and lost wages, you can make a claim under your own underinsured motorist coverage for the remainder. If you live in a no-fault state, your PIP coverage will pay for your lost wages up to the limits of your policy.
When another driver wrecks your car beyond repair, his or her insurance company should pay you the actual cash value of your car before it was totaled. The industry standard definition of actual cash value is "replacement cost" minus "depreciation." Replacement cost is the amount of money it would take to replace your vehicle with a similar one. Depreciation is the amount of money your car has devalued over time.
The insurer also should pay for the sales tax on the new vehicle that you purchase with the insurance money. See what to do when your auto insurer totals your car for more information.
In most states you would make a claim for your injuries through the at-fault person’s auto insurer. If they are uninsured, you could make a claim through your own uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, if you have it, or through your health insurance.
There are some states that require you to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) and have slightly different rules for collecting for your injuries after an accident. For example, your PIP coverage pays for your medical expenses and lost wages, even if you are not to blame for the crash. Receiving your PIP benefits requires you to make a claim under your own insurance policy. A deductible and/or copayment may be due when you use your PIP coverages.
This is commonly the situation in no-fault states — although the law differs in each one. Some no-fault states give you the option of contacting the at-fault driver's insurer to recover medical expenses not paid by your PIP. Your vehicle’s property damage would still be claimed through the at-fault party’s liability coverage in no-fault states (except Michigan where special rules apply).
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 12 states and Puerto Rico have no-fault insurance laws: Florida, Hawaii,, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota Pennsylvania and Utah. If you live in one of these states, it’s wise to check with your insurance agent, or your state insurance department, for the tips on how to handle third-party accident claims.
Insurance companies are always looking for ways to shave a few dollars from the cost of a claim, and reimbursements for rental-car costs often are the first to meet the blade.
Insurance companies often tell accident victims that they pay only a certain amount per day for rental cars. As a victim of another person's negligence, you have the right to recoup the costs associated with fixing the disruption you experience, including all of the costs of renting a vehicle while your own vehicle is being repaired.
To avoid having to pay for part of a rental, rent reasonably. And don't purchase a collision damage waiver from the rental company if your own insurance policy extends coverage for damage to rental cars.
If you rent reasonably and the insurer wants to short-change you on rental reimbursement, ask the insurer to put its reason in writing. Insurers must inform you in writing of their decisions to deny or reduce payments.
Know what you deserve
Knowing your state's prompt-payment law is beneficial. Every state's unfair claims settlement practices act outlines the time frame in which an insurer must issue you a check for your damages. We have more on how your state’s Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act can help you.
Laws vary widely from state to state, with many simply mandating a "prompt" payment of claims, while others specify a number of days and the interest owed to you if the insurer fails to pay within the specified period.
One last factor to keep in mind: Unfair claims settlement practices acts often do not extend the same rights to you if you're making a claim against another driver's insurance as opposed to making a claim under your own insurance policy.
Writing a matter-of-fact letter to the at-fault person's insurance company is a smart way to inform it of your expectations and rights. Telling the insurer that you expect it to pay all reasonable costs you incur as a result of the accident, including payment for repairs to or the total-loss value of your vehicle, diminished value of your car, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and rental-car costs will highlight the insurer's responsibilities under public policy.
Make sure you keep a record of all correspondence, including dates and the names of customer service reps.
Accidents are the reason you bought car insurance.
Instead of losing your car because of a moment’s inattention, it will be repaired or replaced. Instead of facing a battery of lawyers yourself, you have an experienced insurance company to represent you. Instead of trying to find a body shop and manage a repair, you have experts in collision damage overseeing the process.
You may move quickly from gratitude to worry when you realize there’s a price to be paid. An auto accident can leave your rates untouched, or it can result in a surcharge that inflates your car insurance bill for years to come.
If your car was determined a total loss after an accident, read our guide on what to do with a totaled car.
Here are answers to some of the most common questions we get about car accidents and the types of car insurance needed to make everything right.
What should I do after an accident? What information should I exchange?
State laws vary, but in general the steps to take after an accident include the following:
Stop at once. Position your car so that you don’t needlessly block or endanger others. If you drive off from the scene, it will be considered a hit-and-run, which is a serious infraction in most states.
Check to see if anyone is injured. Some states require that you render reasonable aid if anyone is injured, but don’t do anything that could cause further injuries.
Call the police for a report. Insurers like to have a police report if possible, and it’s required in many states. If you have a minor parking lot accident, the police may not have time to come to the scene, but you will be able to tell your insurer that you did make the call.
Exchange information. The basic rule of thumb is to exchange the following information with the other driver:
- Name of the owner if not the same as the driver
- Names of any passengers
- Vehicle’s make, model and license plate number
- Insurance information – company name, policy number and phone number to call for claims
You are not required to show your driver's license, proof of insurance or your contact information to anyone but the police. You do not need to ask for that information from anyone else.
We’d also suggest that you:
Find witnesses. Get their names and phone numbers. Encourage them to stay until law enforcement comes so that their statements can be taken down. Independent witnesses tend to give an unbiased description of how the accident happened, which insurance companies like.
Take pictures. If possible, take photos of the damage to each car and the whole accident scene. If you have a phone that takes good-quality pictures, use it. If you don’t, keep a digital camera in the glove box. A picture can be worth a thousand words when making an insurance claim.
Check with your department of motor vehicles (DMV) to find out what’s required after an accident. Some states require an accident report if there are any injuries and/or property damage over a certain monetary threshold.
Who contacts the insurance company after an accident?
The drivers and others who are filing claims contact the insurance companies that are involved.
If the other driver was at fault, contact his or her insurer to make your claim. Also, contact your own insurer if your policy requires it, or if you are making any claims under your own coverages.
If you were at fault, contact your car insurance company to notify them of the accident. Advise your insurer if others likely will be calling to file claims or if you need to file one.
The police and DMV don’t call your car insurance company and tattle on you.
Who determines who is responsible for the accident?
Both law enforcement and insurance companies make determinations on who is at fault, or if both drivers are partially at fault.
For the purpose of being ticketed and facing penalties for traffic violations, the police will determine who did what and charge the drivers accordingly. For the insurance companies involved, a claims adjuster will be appointed and decide fault. The police and the insurance companies don’t always agree on fault; for claim purposes, the insurance companies go by the decisions of their respective adjusters. Many people find it intimidating to speak with the adjuster. Read our page on insurance claims for tips on how to deal with insurance adjusters.
It may be that one driver is found to be fully at fault and will thus be liable for all damages, or both drivers may be found partially at fault for the incident. If both drivers are found at fault, then state negligence laws will determine whose insurance pays what.
No-fault insurance applies only to bodily injuries. Your personal injury protection (PIP) pays for your own medical bills, but if the other driver was at fault, his liability coverage would pay for damage to your car.
What type of accident is considered to be a collision?
An accident is typically claimed under collision coverage when your car hits or is hit by another car or object, regardless of fault. Upset of your car, such as flipping your vehicle or rolling down an embankment, is also a collision claim.
Hitting another vehicle or an inanimate object like a tree, pole, house, fence, etc., all would be considered a collision accident claim.
What type of accident is considered to be comprehensive?
An accident that is “other than collision” is considered comprehensive if it is covered by your car insurance policy. Damages to your vehicle from fire, vandalism or theft are comprehensive claims. Damages from natural occurrences, such as floodwaters, high winds and hail, are covered by comprehensive coverages.
Also, making contact with an animal is a comprehensive claim. So, if your accident is with a dog, deer, cow or bird, it will be considered a comprehensive claim.
Does an accident affect my car insurance rates? If so, for how long?
An accident’s effect on your rates depends upon the circumstances of the accident and how many claims you’ve had in recent years.
Comprehensive claims are less likely to be your fault, so they typically won’t raise your rates. Collision claims are more likely to hike up your rates.
If you’re at fault, it’s your first accident and damages are minor, it may eliminate your good driver discount, but not much else. If you weren’t at fault and the claims were through the other party’s insurance, it likely won’t affect you either. If, however, you’ve already made a few claims in a short period of time, any type of claim may affect your rates since you appear to the insurer to be accident-prone.
For example, some car insurance companies won’t impose a surcharge if the accident didn’t cause damage or injury in excess of $1,000, unless you have had two or more of this type of accident within the last three years.
State insurance laws also come into play. Some states allow insurers to surcharge drivers only for certain types of accidents or if damages were over a certain monetary amount.
An accident typically will affect your rates anywhere from three to five years; it depends upon state laws and the guidelines of your car insurance company.
How long does an accident stay on my record?
It varies by state. In some states, accidents don’t even go on your driving record, or only appear if you were deemed at fault and ticketed for a traffic infraction. In other states, accidents go on your record and stay anywhere from one to five years. You’ll have to contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to find out if the accident will go on your record and how long it will stay there.
If I don’t report an accident, does my insurance company know?
If there is no police report, nothing noted on your driving record and you paid out of pocket for any damages you caused, it would be unlikely that your insurer would know about a minor accident you were in. That's also true if you were in an unreported single-car accident that resulted in no claims.
If there are claims involved, your car insurance company will know about the accident even if you don’t get a police report or personally notify your insurer of the incident. When claims are paid out, auto insurance providers place the claims information into a central database.
When you apply for a new policy with a new insurer, it, too, will obtain your claims history, and see any previous accidents and claims you had.
If your car is in an accident, you may want to make a claim on your motor insurance. This page tells you what you need to know before you make a claim. And what you can do if the driver is uninsured or won't give you their details.
Making a claim if you're in an accident
If you're in an accident you should:
- not admit at the scene that it was your fault
- exchange names and other details with the other drivers and get details of any independent witnesses. If someone refuses to give you their details your insurer may be able to trace them through their vehicle registration number
- tell your insurer about the accident straightaway, even if you don't want to make a claim
- if someone is injured, show your insurance certificate or cover note to the police. If you can't do this at the scene take the documents to the police station within seven days
- take photographs that you may be able to later use as evidence if you need to make a claim.
If you have comprehensive insurance
If you have a comprehensive policy you should claim from your own insurer, but you may lose your no claims bonus if the insurer can't recover the money from the other driver's insurer.
You can still claim from the other driver's insurer for any injuries or losses not covered by your own policy. These are called uninsured losses and can cover alternative transport while your own vehicle is being repaired, loss of earnings, personal injuries and the excess on your policy.
You should keep any losses to a minimum and keep evidence of them. If you need to hire another vehicle it should normally be similar to your own vehicle.
To make a claim, get a form from your insurer or write to the other driver or their insurer, giving details of the accident and the other driver's policy number. Tell your insurer about any independent witnesses and send them witness statements if you can. If you used a broker or agent to buy your policy they may be able to help you. Make sure you keep copies of all documents and letters.
If you have third party insurance
You should make a claim against the other driver and allow the insurer to decide who is responsible for the accident. If they say you are responsible you’ll have to pay for repairs to your own vehicle.
To claim from the other driver tell them in writing that you want to claim from them. If they were driving a company vehicle, also let the company know what's happened. You should tell your own insurer that you have done this. The other driver should report the accident to their own insurer. You can find out if the other driver has insurance by contacting the Motor Insurance Database
If you've been in an accident and you receive a letter or claim form from the other driver or their insurer forward this to your own insurer.
If the accident wasn’t your fault
If the accident wasn’t your fault you may be able to use a credit hire company rather than your insurance company.
- For more information see Car insurance - if the accident wasn’t your fault
If the driver is uninsured or can’t be identified
You can claim on your own insurance if you have comprehensive cover. The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) may also be able to settle your claim if the driver is uninsured. This includes cases where the driver has broken their policy conditions.
You won't be able to claim if you are an injured passenger of an uninsured driver and you knew, or should have known, that they weren't insured.
Repairing your vehicle
You shouldn't get your car repaired without your insurer's permission since they may want to send someone to inspect it and you may have to use an approved repairer.
If you are asked to get your own estimates you may have to ask your insurer for their approval before going ahead with repairs.
You may also have to pay some of the repair cost yourself if your vehicle is in a better condition after repairs than it was beforehand.
If your insurer decides that it is not economical to repair your vehicle they should offer you the vehicle's market value. They normally then take the vehicle from you but you may be able to negotiate to keep it. This is known as an insurance write off.
A car may be called a write-off or total loss by an insurance company under the following categories:
·A: a vehicle which should have been totally crushed, including all its spare parts
·B: a vehicle from which parts may be salvaged but the body shell should have been crushed and the car should never return to the road
·C: a vehicle that can be repaired, but where the insurer's repairs cost more than the value of the car before the accident
·D: a vehicle that can be repaired, where the insurer's repairs don't cost more than the value of the car before the accident.
If your car is a write-off
If your insurer decides that it is not economical to repair your car they should offer you the car's market value at the time of the accident. This is known as an insurance write off. They normally then take the car from you but you may be able to negotiate to keep it.
If you don’t agree the amount you’re offered is fair, you’ll need to give the insurer or insurance broker evidence to show your car is worth more. For example, you could give prices of similar cars for sale in the local area. You can also get a valuation from an independent qualified engineer, if you wanted to pay for this.
Once the claim is settled, your insurer will keep the damaged car. If you want to keep it instead, you can negotiate with the insurer. The insurer will only let you keep the car if it’s possible to repair it to make it roadworthy again. In this case, money will be taken off the amount you get, to cover the cost of the salvage value of the car.
Your insurer should get your consent to send your written-off car to the scrapyard for sale or to be broken into parts. If they don’t get your consent, then scrap the car and decide not to settle your claim, you are entitled to claim the salvage value of the car.
Minor damage to older cars
If you have an accident in an older car with minor damage, you may decide not to claim on your insurance in case the car is written off. Then you can get the car repaired yourself and keep it.
If you do claim on your insurance and your car is declared a write off, you could ask the insurance company how they work this out. For example, some insurers will write off a car if the cost of the repairs is as little as 60% of the value of the car. In some cases you may be able to claim on your insurance and avoid the car being written off by negotiating with your insurance company. You can negotiate to get your car valued at a higher price than first offered by the insurance company. You may also be able to find a garage that charges less for the repairs than the insurer's approved garage. The insurance company will have to give their approval before you go ahead with the repairs from another garage.
- If you need more help
Other useful information
Find out more about making a claim against an uninsured driver from the Motor Insurers Bureau at: www.mib.org.uk.
Tel: 0845 165 2800