How to report an auto accident to your insurance company in California

Reporting an accident in California requires more effort than most states. California also makes a distinction between an accident and a collision, so knowing the difference is important before filing a report. Not only is being in an accident or collision important to report to the California department of motor vehicles, but you must report them to your insurance company as well. It is important to have all the proper paperwork as well as all the pertinent information you need when reporting an accident or collision to your insurance company.

The distinction between an accident and a collision

An accident per the California DMV, an accident is an unforeseen event that is no one’s fault and no one involved is negligent.  In these cases if property damage of $750 or more, or if a death or personal injury is involved it must be reported. If both of these points apply, then an accident form must be completed. Form SR1 must be completed by all parties involved and submitted to the DMV within 10 days, even if the accident occurred on private property. If there is reason to believe that the damage is less than $750 the parties involved may work out an agreement between them or between their insurance companies without the accident form having to be completed and submitted. However, whether an accident reports needs to be filed with the DMV or not, the incident still must be reported to your insurance company to make sure that you have handled your affairs properly. Each party should exchange important information your insurance company will need including the driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance company and policy number and year, make and model of the vehicle.

Most incidents that occur between vehicles are considered collisions. A collision, as defined by the California DMV, is contact between two or more cars, and at least one driver is at fault. Some of the common causes of collisions are driving too fast, failure to yield the right-of-way, careless driving and disobeying signs and signals. The basic requirements are the same for a collision as they are for an accident. The form SR1 report must be completed and submitted to the DMV within 10 days if the damage caused is more than $750 of if anyone is killed or injured. All necessary information should be exchanged between all drivers involved, just as in an accident. In the case of a collision however, a written report must be filed with the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours of the collision if someone is injured or killed. Make sure that when you file the claim with your insurance company that you send them copies of all necessary completed information and advise them who you have filed reports with and include a copy of them as well.

Other incidents

Other incidents may occur with your vehicle that you need to file a collision report as well as report to your insurance company.  If you hit a parked car for any reason, you should leave a note with all your information on the vehicle, as well as take as much information as you can from the vehicle. You then need to file an accident report and submit it to the DMV, as well as report the incident to your insurance company. You will also need to provide them with copies of any reports you have as well as all the information you obtained. Rule of thumb is that any incident that requires the submission of an accident report to the DMV should be reported to your insurance company. In some cases, even if you feel you do not have to complete an accident report, and you report an incident to your insurance company, they may file one for you just to be safe.

Car accidents happen

Car accidents happen every minute of the day, and can happen to anyone. As long as you know what you need to do when you are involved in an accident, you can be sure that it will be efficiently handled by your insurance company. Following proper procedures when in an accident and providing as much information as you can to your insurance company can make an accident a much less difficult problem to deal with. If you are in an accident and ever in doubt, always contact your insurance agent and they can provide you the answers you need.