What to do after a minor car accident

If you're in a minor car accident where no one is hurt and there's little damage to anyone's car, in most cases, you should take the same precautions you would if you were in a more serious crash. You must take steps immediately following the crash to ensure that you can document what happened, including exchanging information with the drivers involved and taking pictures of the damage.

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What to do in a fender bender

You should do several things after a minor accident, even if it's just a fender bender.

  1. Move to a safe location and check for injuries

    If your car is drivable, the first thing to do is move it out of the way of traffic. When you're in a safe location, ensure no one involved in the accident is hurt.

  2. Exchange information with the other drivers involved in the collision

    If there aren't any serious injuries, exchange information with the other drivers. Ask for their full name and contact information, the name of their insurance company, and their license plate number. Take photos of the accident scene. If there are any witnesses at the scene, ask them if they are willing to offer a statement of what they saw. It may seem excessive for a few dents and scratches or a damaged bumper, but it's essential to have a record of what happened.

  3. Call the police

    Call the police to report the crash so there's an official record of the incident. Some injuries may take hours or even days to show up, and certain types of vehicle damage aren't visible to the naked eye. Before you know it, your fender bender accident could be much more severe than you thought. Having a record of the accident can help the insurance companies sort out the details and determine who is responsible for paying any claims that either party might file.

  4. Notify your insurance company

    It's essential to contact your insurer if you're in an accident with another vehicle, even if the accident is minor. Your insurance company will need all the information you gathered from the other parties in the crash.

What is considered a minor car accident?

A minor car accident is generally considered one where there are no injuries and only minor damage to the vehicles involved. For example, if a vehicle rear ends you at low speed you may not suffer any injuries and the only damage to your car may be a dent in the bumper.

Common questions you might have after a minor traffic crash

What happens if there's no damage after a minor car accident?

It can be difficult to determine if there's any damage right after an accident, so it's still worth documenting the incident in case you or the other driver file a claim later.

Do I have to call the police after a minor car accident?

Laws for reporting car accidents vary by state. If there's a severe injury or significant vehicle damage, you may be required to call the police. If there aren't any injuries and damage to the vehicles is minor, the law might not require you to, but it's still a good idea. Note that you can still file a car insurance claim even if you don't file a police report.

A police officer can help ensure everyone is OK and document what happened with an accident report. Some jurisdictions might not send officers to the scene for minor car accidents. But you can still file a report with your local police department, which could be useful later.

Should I call my insurance company after a minor accident?

Yes. It's essential to contact your insurer if you're in an accident with another vehicle because it's not always possible to determine how severe someone's injuries are or how much damage a car sustained in the crash. No matter who was at fault, your insurer can work with the other insurance company to sort out the details and ensure there's no delay in processing claims that you or the other parties might file.

You might also check with your insurance company to see if your policy covers the cost of a rental car while yours is in the shop having repairs made.

Should I file a claim for a minor accident?

For vehicle damage: Yes. If your vehicle received minor damage, it might be worth filing a collision claim with your insurance if the damage costs more than your deductible. If the other driver caused the accident, then you could file a claim with their insurance company instead.

For injuries: Yes. Even if it was a fender bender with no damage and no one appears to be seriously hurt, you should still consider filing a claim for minor injuries. Some injuries might be more severe than they seem, and others can linger and may cost more to treat than you expect. You could file a claim under your medical payments or personal injury protection coverage, assuming you carry these coverages. If the other driver caused the accident, you could file a bodily injury claim with their insurer.

Navigating what to do following a minor car accident can be stressful, but now you know what to do in a minor car accident. Whether you think you're at fault or not, it is vital that you contact your insurance company immediately following a crash. You can contact Progressive to report a claim online or over the phone.

Pro tip:

Progressive offers Accident Forgiveness as part of our Loyalty Rewards Program. As soon as you buy a policy, you earn Small Accident Forgiveness so your rate won't go up after your first claim of $500 or less. If you stay with Progressive for at least five years and remain accident and violation-free during that time period, you'll unlock Large Accident Forgiveness too (we won't raise your rate if you have a claim for over $500). Learn more about accident forgiveness.

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