Do You Have to Report an Accident to Your Insurance if It’s Not Your Fault?

February 16, 2024 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
Do You Have to Report an Accident to Your Insurance if It’s Not Your Fault?

Accidents happen, and they can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming. Whether you're involved in a minor fender-bender or a more serious collision, one of the first questions that may cross your mind is whether you should report the accident to your insurance company, especially if it's not your fault.

The short answer is yes, you generally should report the accident to your insurance company even if it’s not your fault, but not necessarily to recover compensation for your accident injuries. Consult Fort Worth car accident attorney for legal guidance in the matter.

Texas Law Follows an At-Fault System in Car Accidents

When you suffer injuries in a car accident in Texas, you turn to the at-fault party and their insurance company for compensation for your accident-related medical bills and other expenses. So why would you need to contact your own car insurance? There are some reasons why, including:

  • Contractual Obligation: Most auto insurance policies require policyholders to promptly report any accident. Failing to do so might violate the terms of your policy, potentially leading to a denial of coverage.
  • Protection Against Unforeseen Claims: Even if the accident seems minor or the other driver admits fault, they may later decide to file a claim against you. Early reporting places your insurer on notice and prepares them to defend you if needed.
  • Access to Benefits: Your policy might offer benefits like medical payments coverage or collision coverage, which you can access regardless of fault. Reporting the accident ensures you can utilize these benefits.

Different Types of Car Insurance Coverage in Texas

As mentioned above, there are several types of car insurance coverage available to drivers that you may be able to take advantage of. Here are the primary types of car insurance available in Texas:

  • Liability InsuranceBodily injury liability coverage pays for injuries you cause to other people in an at-fault accident. It helps cover medical expenses, lost wages, and legal expenses if the other party sues you. Property damage liability coverage pays for the damage you cause to other people's property, such as their vehicles or structures.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): PIP coverage is also known as "no-fault" insurance. It covers medical expenses, lost wages, and essential services if you or your passengers are injured in an accident, regardless of fault.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM): This type of coverage protects you if you're involved in an accident with a driver who doesn't have insurance or whose insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your damages. It helps cover your medical expenses and property damage.
  • Collision Coverage: This coverage pays for repairs to your vehicle if it's damaged in a collision, regardless of fault. This coverage typically has a deductible you'll need to pay before the insurance kicks in.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your vehicle caused by incidents other than collisions. This includes damage from theft, vandalism, natural disasters, and more.
  • Medical Payments (MedPay): MedPay covers medical expenses for you and your passengers after an accident, regardless of fault. It can help cover co-pays, deductibles, and other medical costs.

Texas Law and Reporting Accidents

Under Texas law, certain accidents must be reported to the Texas Department of Transportation. This generally includes accidents where there is injury, death, or significant property damage. While this law doesn’t mandate reporting to your insurer, it highlights the seriousness with which Texas treats accident reporting.

What Happens After Reporting a Car Accident?

When you report an accident to your insurance company, the adjuster usually follows a process such as:

  1. Investigation by the Insurer: Your insurance company will investigate the accident to determine fault and coverage. This might involve reviewing police reports, speaking with witnesses, and examining vehicle damage.
  • Determining Fault: Texas follows a "modified comparative fault" system. This means you can still recover damages in an accident if you are not more than 50% at fault. However, your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
  • Dealing with the Other Driver’s Insurer: If the other driver is at fault, their insurance should cover your damages. However, these claims can be complex, and having your insurer informed and possibly involved can be beneficial.

Use Caution When Reporting a Car Accident, even if It’s Not Your Fault

When reporting a car accident to your insurance company, it's important to be careful about what you say to protect your interests and avoid potential complications. If you slip up, the insurer may use your words against you to deny liability or claim you were partly to blame. In car accident cases, especially those that involve serious or fatal injuries, it's important to retain legal representation.

As a precaution, here's a list of things you should and should not say when reporting an accident to your insurance company:

What to Say to Your Insurance Company

  • Factual Information: Provide factual and accurate information about the accident. Stick to the details of what happened without speculating or making assumptions about fault.
  • Date, Time, and Location: Clearly state the date, time, and location of the accident. This helps the insurance company verify the incident.
  • Contact Information: Share your contact information and any contact information you have for the other party involved, including their name, address, phone number, and insurance details.
  • Description of the Accident: Give a brief description of how the accident occurred. Stick to the facts and avoid making judgments about who was at fault.
  • Injuries: If there are any injuries, report them accurately. This includes injuries to yourself, passengers in your vehicle, and anyone in the other vehicle(s).
  • Witnesses: If there were any witnesses to the accident, provide their contact information. Witnesses can be valuable in corroborating your account of the incident.
  • Police Report: If law enforcement was called to the scene and filed a police report, mention it and provide the report number if available.
  • Your Insurance Policy Information: Give your insurance policy number and any other relevant policy details as requested by your insurance company.
  • Medical Treatment: If you or anyone else involved in the accident received medical treatment, inform your insurance company. This is important for documenting any injuries related to the accident.
  • Ask Questions: Don't hesitate to ask questions about your coverage, the claims process, and any other concerns you may have. It's essential to understand your rights and responsibilities.

What Not to Say to Your Insurance Company

  • Apologize or Admit Fault: Avoid apologizing or admitting fault, even if you think you may be partially responsible for the accident. Fault determination is a complex process, and admitting fault at this stage can be used against you later.
  • Guess or Speculate: Stick to the facts you are certain of. Avoid guessing or speculating about what happened or who is at fault.
  • Accept a Quick Settlement: If the insurance company offers a quick settlement, do not accept it without careful consideration. It's often best to consult with an attorney or thoroughly evaluate the extent of your damages before accepting any settlement.
  • Provide Unnecessary Details: While it's crucial to be thorough, avoid providing unnecessary personal information that is not directly related to the accident.
  • Blame the Other Party: Even if you believe the other party was at fault, avoid blaming them or making accusations. Let the insurance companies and, if necessary, legal authorities determine fault.
  • Exaggerate Injuries: Be truthful about injuries. Exaggerating injuries or providing false information can damage your credibility.
  • Recorded Statements: Be cautious about giving recorded statements without consulting an attorney. Insurance companies may use recorded statements against you during the claims process.
  • Settle Too Quickly: Take your time to assess the full extent of your damages before agreeing to any settlements. Rushing the process may result in inadequate compensation for your losses.
  • Sign Documents Without Review: Avoid signing any documents from the insurance company without understanding their implications. It's advisable to have an attorney review any settlement agreements or legal documents.
  • Provide a Statement to the Other Party's Insurance: If the other party's insurance company contacts you, be very cautious about what you say. It's generally best to direct them to your own insurance company or consult with an attorney before providing a statement.

Myths and Misconceptions

Many people may try to avoid reporting their accident to their insurance company either for fear that by doing so their premiums will increase or thinking it may be easier to settle the matter privately.

First, while premium increases after a car accident are a common concern, insurance companies typically don’t increase premiums in the case of a no-fault accident. Insurance companies generally consider many factors when adjusting premiums, including your overall driving record and the circumstances of the accident.

And while it's possible to settle minor accidents privately, some risks may come back to bite you in the long run. For example, the other driver may later report the accident or claim more extensive damages or injuries than initially stated.

While it may be tempting to avoid reporting an accident to your insurance company when you believe you're not at fault, it's generally in your best interest to do so. Reporting the accident protects your legal rights, ensures you receive any benefits your policy provides, and helps you navigate potential complications down the road. However, when doing so, be sure to only provide the facts. To protect your rights, talk with an experienced car accident attorney.

Consulting with a legal professional, like those at the Francis Firm, can provide clarity and guidance. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights, deal with insurance companies, and ensure you receive fair compensation. Contact a personal injury lawyer at Francis Firm at 817-617-8639 today for your free consultation and case evaluation.