Should you report a claim?
A Spokane car accident can be dealt with directly between the parties without having insurance companies involved. There is nothing in the Revised Code of Washington or the Washington Administrative Code that requires or forces you to involve any particular insurance company.
You could pay (or be paid) for damages and injuries out of pocket and your insurance carrier may never be involved. However, most auto insurance policies require you to file.
Auto policies contain a clause commonly referred to as “the Duty to Report Losses.” This clause essentially excludes coverage for any losses that otherwise would be covered if you (the insured) fail to call in and report it to your insurance company.
A Spokane car accident can be very minor on our less traveled roads or where traffic speeds are very low: however, even if you believe the accident is minor and there is only property damage, not reporting a claim can prove to be a very costly mistake.
If, for example, you hit someone’s vehicle and you decide to pay for their damages out of pocket, that party could come after you for more money or even make an injury claim.
This is also true for your own passengers. They can come after you (the insured driver) for alleged injuries and damages. If you report the incident, your insurance company is bound to protect you (even hire an attorney for you if needed). This applies even if the lawsuit is frivolous or without merit.
However if you fail to report the incident, the insurance company can review your policy and argue that coverage is void as you failed to comply with the duties outlined in your policy. You could be left alone to pay for your own legal defense and judgments against you.
Many people do not want to file a small Spokane car accident because they believe their insurance rates will be raised by their insurance company. Although there is a strong possibility that this could occur, you are better protected by ensuring that the duties outlined in the policy are followed. Reporting the incident could save you thousands down the road.
What about your rates?
The best way you can prevent your insurance company from raising your rates is by doing a strong comparison between insurance companies. Insurance agents and adjusters often deny or claim lack of knowledge if a claim would affect your rates in any way.
Insurance agents in particular have a vested interest in discouraging you from filing a claim because insurance agents have a loss ratio that would decrease the amount of commissions they receive. Insurance agents do not only have to sell insurance policies, but they have to sell insurance policies that do not make claims against the insurance company.
The only way to ensure that your rates are not raised for filing a claim is by getting insurance quotes from different carriers before (or while) the claim is pending)and after you report the claim.
What to do then? Take your quote to your agent and either ask them to match the lowest price or simply change carriers. When an agent sees that you have a lower quote with another carrier, they will likely give in and lower your rates to where they were before.
Read more about:
Overview of this area of law
Washington negligence law
Negligence: Duty and Breach
Negligence: Remedies and Damages
Defenses to Negligence
Spokane car accidents
Washington products liability
Bodily injury, fault, and other issues
Personal injury claims
Types of Liability Claims
Dealing with insurance companies
Going to trial – overview