If you are involved in a collision, you might be hesitant to report it to your insurance company regardless of whether or not you were at fault. While there are some situations in which it makes sense to not file a claim, there are others in which it is crucial for you to do so. Knowing when to file a car insurance claim can help you save money and shield you from potentially substantial losses. If you have been injured in a collision in which the other driver was at fault, an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave can guide you through the process and work to recover reasonable damages on your behalf.
When to File a Car Insurance Claim
Some people try to avoid filing claims with their insurance companies after minor collisions. They might agree with the other drivers to take care of the damage on their own without filing claims. People sometimes do this to prevent an increase in their insurance rate. However, unless you are involved in a minor collision that only involves your car, you should always file a car insurance claim with your own company if you are at fault or with the other driver’s company if he or she is at fault.
When the Other Driver Is at Fault
If the other driver is at fault in the collision, you should file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Even if the damage to your car appears minor, there might be some hidden damage that is more expensive than you anticipate. In addition, the other driver may not follow through with paying for the damages to your car if you don’t report the accident.
It is also the law that nearly all vehicle collisions must be reported. Under M.R.S. § 303.040, parties who are involved in a collision must exchange insurance and other contact information. Collisions must be reported if they involve any of the following:
- Collisions with uninsured drivers
- Collisions in which someone is injured or killed
- Collisions that result in more than $500 worth of damage
Since $500 worth of damage is a negligible amount, most collisions are required to be reported to the state.
When the Other Driver Is Uninsured
Getting into a collision with an uninsured driver can be frustrating. However, all drivers in Missouri are required to carry uninsured motorists (UM) coverage under M.R.S. § 379.203. Even if an uninsured driver was at fault in your collision, you can file an insurance claim with your own company under your UM coverage.
The minimum coverage amounts for UM insurance in Missouri are as follows:
- $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
- $50,000 bodily injury coverage maximum per collision
For an additional cost, you can obtain UM coverage with higher limits.
It is also a good idea to purchase underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage, which is not required. UIM coverage will pay for the difference between the damages that you suffer and the policy limits of an at-fault driver whose insurance is insufficient to cover your losses. If you have UIM coverage, you should also file a claim with your own insurance company when an at-fault driver is underinsured.
When You Are at Fault
When you are the driver who is at fault in a collision, you should always provide your information to the other driver and report the collision to your insurance company. While your rates might go up, your insurance is meant to shield you from liability. You should never try to get the other driver to agree for you to pay for the damages out of your pocket. Why? The damages to the other driver’s vehicle may be more extensive than they immediately appear. Even if the driver says that he or she is uninjured, he or she may discover injuries in the days following the accident. Your insurance can pay for the damages that the other driver has suffered as a result of the accident while shielding you from personal liability.
When Someone Has Been Injured
An insurance claim should always be filed when someone has been injured in the collision.
Medical expenses can quickly add up after an accident. By filing a claim after you have been injured, you might be able to recover the medical expenses that you are forced to pay. If someone else has been injured because of an accident that you caused, your insurance can pay for the injured person’s medical costs.
Talk to an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Knowing when to file a car insurance claim can help you protect yourself and your rights. If you are injured because of the negligence of another driver, you should also consider retaining an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. Contact us online or call 417-322-2222 to schedule a free consultation.