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Last updated: April 6, 2023

Is It Worth Reporting a Minor Car Accident?

As a rule, you should call your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.

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Were you involved in a minor accident? The two most common reasons people choose not to call their insurance company after a minor accident are fear of rate increases and the (seeming) ease of working it out with the other party directly.

However, not reporting a car accident to your insurance company often causes more problems than it solves. It can be challenging to tell what damage and injuries could result from an incident. Though it may not be the first thing you do after an accident, calling your insurance company is a good idea that will keep you whole in the long run, even if it’s a fender bender.

Should You File a Claim for a Minor Accident?

You should file an insurance claim for vehicle damage if the damage costs more than your deductible so that your insurance company can cover the difference. For minor injuries to you or the other party, contact your insurer. It’s not always possible to determine the severity of injuries at the scene, so looping in your insurance company is the best way to ensure a speedy solution for all parties.1

How you file a claim depends on the insurer, but the first step is to get in touch with your insurance agent or submit a claim online or through the mail.

Expenses your insurer might reimburse you for include, but are not limited to, repairs for damage to your vehicle and medical costs for injuries sustained during the accident. Filing a claim could affect your insurance premium and your car’s resale or trade-in value, so it’s understandable to be cautious when filing a claim for a minor incident.

When Should You Pay Out of Pocket?

While we advise contacting your insurance company after any accident, big or small, there are some instances in which you may choose to pay out of pocket after a minor accident. These include:

  • Accidents involving just you or your car: Your car insurance company may not reimburse you, so you could choose not to file a claim.
  • Repairs cost less than your deductible: Your deductible is part of the repair bill you agreed to pay before your insurance will reimburse you for a covered claim. If the repairs cost less than your deductible, you will pay for any repairs out of pocket.
  • Accidents on your property: This is the only time you don’t have to call your auto insurance provider after an incident. Examples include backing into your garage door or scraping a fence on your property.

Before you pay out of pocket for a minor accident, make sure you can answer these questions:

  • Is the damage estimate correct? Get a second opinion. If the damage is more extensive than it appears initially, your insurance might cover more of it than you think.
  • Do you trust the other party? If you want to work out compensation with the other party directly, you need to be sure they’ll follow through with what they promise to do. The best way to hold the other party accountable is to exchange insurance information.
  • Do you have accident forgiveness? If so, and it’s your first accident, there is no harm in submitting a claim to your insurance provider. Accident forgiveness prevents your premium from going up if you have an accident.2 Insurers apply accident forgiveness differently, either at no charge or as a purchased endorsement.
  • Are you considering switching insurance companies? Insurers will ask questions about your accident history and look at your driving record when providing you with a quote. Not reporting an accident could be considered insurance fraud.

When Should You Contact Your Insurance Company?

Every auto insurance policy requires you to report any accident immediately, whether or not you are at fault.3 While it’s true that accidents may impact your premium, raising your premium isn’t the only reason insurance companies want you to report an accident. Contacting your insurance company after a minor accident benefits you if any of the following situations apply:

  • Unclear injuries: Some injuries take hours or days to develop. Reporting a minor accident protects you in the event you need to rely on your medical payments and liability coverages later.
  • Costly property damage: It’s hard to assess damages on the spot. Either party may discover damage after the fact that is expensive to repair.
  • Untrustworthy drivers: What do you do when someone hits your parked car and leaves? Or if you exchange phone numbers only to realize later that they gave you fake information? You can’t trust the other party to make you whole; that’s what your insurance policy is for.
  • Quick repairs: You may have access to better, faster repair shops and experts that will get you back on the road faster than if you pay out-of-pocket for damages.
  • No-fault state: If you live in a no-fault state, the at-fault party will pay for the other party’s property damage; however, each party pays for their own medical expenses under medical coverage, and the victim can sue only for non-economic damages like injuries. As such, people who live in no-fault states like Massachusetts will have a much different experience than people who live in liability, or at-fault insurance, states. If you’re injured in a no-fault state, you should contact your insurance company regardless of who is legally liable for the accident.

Should You Contact the Other Party’s Insurance Company After an Accident?

You are not responsible for informing the other party’s insurance company after an accident. Your insurance company will advise you on the next steps in the reporting and claims process. In rare cases, your insurance provider might instruct you to contact the other driver’s insurance company to file a third-party insurance claim for car repairs and medical expenses, but it’s common for your insurance company to do this step for you.

Another reason not to contact the other party’s insurance company is that it may hold any information you provide against you during the claims process to create reasonable doubt regarding who caused the accident. It may even go so far as to offer a lump sum that requires you to forego a (potentially more lucrative) liability claim.4

How Can Your Insurance Help You After a Minor Accident?

Your insurance company can help you with everything from towing to getting a rental car to paying for a defense if the other driver pursues a claim against you.5 Here’s how each type of insurance coverage can come in handy after an incident:

  • Collision coverage: Whether you’re in a crash with another vehicle, you hit an object, or you roll over in your car, collision insurance pays for out-of-pocket expenses whether or not you are at fault.6
  • Bodily injury liability coverage: Bodily injury liability coverage pays the costs of injuries to others if you are at fault in an accident.
  • Property damage liability coverage: Property damage liability covers the other party’s property damages if you are at fault. Both bodily injury and property damage fall under the liability types of coverage.
  • Medical payments coverage: Medical payments coverage pays for medical bills for you, your family, and the passengers in your car in the event of an accident. You’ll also have protection if someone hits you while you’re walking.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): Like medical payments coverage, PIP covers your injuries. PIP also covers lost wages and child care. No-fault states require PIP, and at-fault states require medical payments coverage.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: If the other driver in the accident doesn’t have any or enough insurance to cover the costs of your and your passengers’ damages and injuries, your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will pay.

How Do You Report an Accident to Your Insurance Company?

Here’s how you report an accident or file a claim with your insurance company:

  1. Gather all the information you can about the accident, including:
    • When and where the accident occurred
    • Your insurance policy number
    • A description of the accident
    • Information about the other driver, including their name, phone number, and insurance information
    • The VIN of any cars involved
    • Details about law enforcement involvement or a copy of the police report (You can file a claim without a police report, but we don’t recommend it, as police reports provide valuable evidence for your claim.)
  2. If you have an insurance agent, contact them for tips to speed up the claims process.
  3. Submit your claim by:
    • Calling a claims processing phone line
    • Filling out an online form through your insurance company’s website
    • Using your insurance company’s mobile app
  4. When you speak to your insurance company, don’t apologize or claim that you have no injuries. Do not editorialize or offer any details it doesn’t request.7


In case we didn’t make it clear throughout this article, we recommend you call your insurance company in 99.9 percent of accidents you have. You should still contact your insurance company if you are at fault rather than waiting for the other party to submit a claim to your provider. A history of accidents can affect your car insurance premium, but contacting your auto insurance company after an accident ensures you remain whole.


Does your insurance premium go up if you pay out of pocket for an accident?

No, your insurance premium should not increase if you pay for accident damages out of pocket. If the other driver decides to file a claim against you, however, your insurance premium could increase.

Will your insurance company find out if you get into an accident?

Your insurance company will find out if you get into an accident in one of two ways: Either you report the accident, or the other driver files a claim against you. We recommend you report any accidents to your insurance company for full transparency.

How much do car repairs typically cost?

The average range for car repairs is $200 to $2,000. Of course, the cost of repairs depends on your vehicle’s make and model, taxes in your area, the cost of labor, and other factors.

How can you lower your auto insurance premium again after an accident?

The best way to keep your premium low after an accident is to report it to your provider immediately. If you have accident forgiveness, the coverage should kick in to keep your auto insurance premium steady. Other ways you can lower your auto insurance premium if it spikes after an accident include raising your deductible, reducing your coverage, and applying discounts.


  1. What to do after a minor car accident. Progressive. (2023).

  2. Accident Forgiveness Insurance Coverage. Liberty Mutual Insurance. (2023).

  3. Do Minor Vehicle Accidents Need to Be Reported? NOLO. (2023).

  4. Someone Hit My Car, Whose Insurance Do I Call? American Family Insurance. (2023).

  5. Should I call my insurance company after an accident? Allen and Allen. (2023).

  6. Should I Call My Insurance If a Car Accident Was Not My Fault? Morelli. (2023).

  7. What Not to Say to Your Insurance Company After an Accident. Michael T. Gibson P.A. (2022, Nov 6).