Auto Insurance Claims/auto accident & Insurance
Yesterday I had an auto accident & received a written warning ticket for a restricted turn.( officer said I don't need to go to court )
I attempted to get into the L lane & was stopped & waiting for the green light when a car came from in back of me along side of my driver side #L)& hit my front fender.
The officer said that I shouldn't have been crossing over the solid line.
I had a difficult time getting over to the left & thought I was in the clear, but apparently not.
When I was looking in my rear view mirror, I did not see this auto.
The fellow that hit me was extremely polite & concerned, said we didn't need to call the cops after looking at both autos but I insisted, worried that it was wrong not to call them.
It was dark , heavy traffic at the time.
Damage was listed as minor.
The other car damage appeared to be none , if maybe scratched & my scratches were a little more so, but very minor.
I am 80 y.o. & this is my very first accident in all my many yrs. of driving. Reside in Connecticut.
Am I required to report this to my Insurance co. or is the Police report that goes to them sufficient ?
Also,I thought of trying to make a cash payment as I don't expect the cost to be significant.
Would this be a wise thing to do ?
Needless to say, I am petrified as I don't want to lose my license, etc. & worried about a higher cost of insurance.
I would be grateful for any advice/suggestions you could give me.
As a former police officer, I question your "warning". Perhaps you were over the line, but why did the other driver hit you? Did your lane position actually contribute to the accident? In my opinion, the other driver had a greater duty to avoid you. You were stopped! What possible justification did the other driver have to drive into you?
Having said that, even though your warning is not a ticket, the officer has still apparently "charged" you with the accident. Again, I question that - not only as a former officer, but also as a former claims adjuster.
Here's my concern. Once the other driver has a chance to have his damage appraised, he might well consider filing a Property Damage claim against your insurance policy. In order for him to collect, he would need to persuade your company that you were responsible for the accident. Under no circumstances should they find you responsible without speaking to you.
As for your damages, whether or not you report them would depend on the extent of those damages and whether or not you have Collision coverage. If you do have Collision, and your damages exceed your deductible, then you might want to seriously consider filing a Collision claim. Collision covers you regardless of fault.
On the other hand, you might want to consider filing a Property Damage claim against his insurance policy. That is, if you feel you were not at fault. Regardless of what the officer thought, did your minor lane violation actually contribute to the accident? And, as I said before, wasn't it actually the other driver's carelessness that caused the accident? I mean, you were stopped and he ran into you?
If you file a Property Damage claim with the other carrier and they deny it, you can still file a Collision claim with your carrier. And, your carrier might decide that you were not responsible. Either way, your Collision would pay for your damages, minus your deductible.
Most insurance policies require that you report accidents to them if for no other reason so that they can defend you. But if the damages truly were minor, and if each driver is comfortable handling them privately, then the insurance companies need never be involved from a practical standpoint
But that scenario is indeed rare. I can tell you from experience, that even the most "minor" damage is far more costly to repair than most people can even imagine. So for this reason most accidents are reported to insurance companies.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you consider a cash payment to the other driver. NEVER do this. To do so is an automatic admission of fault. But the most dangerous aspect of this is that you might pay another driver say $500 only to find out that the damage was actually $1500, or $2500 or ... Now what? And what if the other driver demands a rental car while his car is in the shop? Are you going to pay for that too?
I am constantly amazed why people are so afraid to report accidents to their carriers, even at-fault accidents. Isn't that what insurance is for? And, yes, an at fault accident will generally result in a rate increase, but the increase in premiums is rarely even a fraction of trying to have damage repaired out of pocket.
Obviously your driving record is impeccable. If you have been with your insurance company for awhile, you may well qualify for a "no-deductible" first loss. All of that assuming your carrier determines that you are at fault. And from what you have told me, I don't think you are.
One more important point - it is improper for insurance companies to rely solely on police reports. They must evaluate driver statements, witness statements, and damage in order to arrive at a determination of fault. Does this always occur? Sadly, no. So it is important for you to be proactive if you file a claim - any claim. And if the claim is with your own company, they have a duty to believe you unless their is actual evidence to prove otherwise.
You are not going to lose your license as a result of this accident. Think logically. Why would you lose your license? So what if you're 80. As long as you can drive free of impairments, your age does not matter. One accident in all those years! We should all be such good drivers!
I cannot give you a definitive answer because I do not have all of the details. But I hope you will use this advice so that you can use your own best judgment.
I wish you well, and if you have follow up, feel free to ask.