report accident motor insurer

Why You Should Always Report A Road Accident To Your Motor Insurer

So you have been involved in a road accident, the other driver accepts fault at the accident scene and suggests settling without involving your motor insurers. Sounds good as pesky motor insurers always find a way to increase your premium, so should you accept and not report the accident to your motor insurer?

In this article we explain why you should always notify your motor insurer when you are involved in an accident, the risks of having your motor policy voided by failing to make a timely report, how to recover your vehicle damage expense, personal injury and uninsured losses.

What do motor insurance policies say about reporting accidents?

Invariably your policy of motor insurance will require you to report accidents involving your vehicle (including third party vehicle damage, road infrastructure damage, personal injury, etc.) in a timely manner (as specified by your agreement).

What If The Accident Was Not Your Fault?
You will be required to notify your motor insurer, even if the accident was not your fault or you do not intend to make a claim on your own policy.

What happens if you don’t report an accident to your motor insurer?

Unfortunately, the effect of not telling your motor insurer could be to nullify your motor insurance policy.

Your motor insurer will not be very happy that you have failed to comply with your motor policy terms and may assert that your failure to report has nullified your motor insurance policy.

If you were at fault for the accident – your motor insurer will still likely have to pay the injured party’s personal injury and vehicle damage claim, but may well argue that you should be liable for their expense.

Renewing your motor policy

Imagine the road accident was not your fault – you settle your vehicle damage claim without telling your insurer. You don’t hear any more from the other driver.

Unbeknown to you – the accident has been recorded on the motor insurance database.

You renew your policy or have another accident (that is this time your fault), at which stage your motor insurer checks your record and finds that you failed to disclose the accident and as such your motor policy is null and void for non-disclosure.

Again, the motor insurer may be forced to pay any claim, but in this instance will certainly make a claim against you for all of their expenses, which can run into many thousands of pounds.

What if you delay in reporting your accident to your motor insurer?

Your motor policy will normally stipulate what is a reasonable time period to tell them about an accident.

Your insurer will not be happy if you delay in reporting the accident – but if you have a good reason or the delay is not too significant, it is unlikely your cover will be affected.

There can of course be some very good reasons for not reporting to your insurer immediately (putting aside the initial shock a road accident can create).

For example – if you were so badly injured in a road accident that you were incapacitated in hospital, a delay may be considered as reasonable.

Motor Insurers Complaints Procedure
If you feel you are being treated unfairly by your motor insurer, you should use the complaints procedure as set out in the policy of motor insurance itself.
If not resolved – your complaint can escalate to an independent body who can arbitrate between you and teh insurer to decide who is in teh right. For a motor policy this body will likely be the financial ombudsman.
This procedure acts as a safe guard to ensure that policy holders are treated fairly.

Should you try to settle your vehicle damage claim without reporting your accident to your motor insurer?

Imagine you decide to accept monies for your vehicle damage without involving your motor insurer or alternatively you feel the accident was your fault and wish to pay off the other driver for the vehicle damage you have caused.

You may think that paying the other driver off will see an end to the matter, but will it???

The other driver reports the accident to their motor insurer

The other driver may well report the accident to their motor insurer (as required by their insurance policy) despite seeking compensation direct from you.

Informing A Motor Insurer Without Making A Claim
The other driver may tell their motor insurer about the accident even if they decide not to make a claim against their own insurer and instead recoup any compensation monies from you direct.

A claim for personal injury arises after vehicle damage is paid

Legitimately or otherwise, someone involved in a motor accident may later feel that they have some form of injury. Furthermore – if one party has agreed to pay for vehicle damage – it could be argued that liability is accepted.

Injured Party May Instruct A Solicitor
The injured party may try to pursue the paying party for more money or instruct a solicitor to help make a personal injury claim (which will invariably involve relevant motor insurers).

Will motor insurers always be made aware of your registration plate?

As part of the process of reporting to a motor insurer – all relevant exchanged details (including the registration numbers of all vehicles involved} will be provided.

The motor insurers’ database

Whatever the situation – once a motor insurer is involved,  the record of your accident will likely have been made against your registration number on the insurers database.

pedestrian injury motor accident insurer
Pedestrian Injury Motor Accident Insurer

Should you accept liability at the accident scene?

If an accident is your fault – your motor insurance policy will normally stipulate that you should not accept liability at the accident scene.

Exchange details

You should instead exchange details with the other driver and inform your motor insurer what has happened.

Let your motor insurer decide who is liable

It will be down to your motor insurer to accept liability or fight the claim.

Your motor insurer will not wish you to compromise the claim by accepting fault of your own volition.

Legal Tip
You may not realise as a matter of law who is at fault, so leave that down to your motor insurers or speak to a solicitor.

Do motor insurers ever concede liability?

“Yes” – a motor insurer will often accept fault and concede liability. The decision to accept fault or otherwise is based on the facts of the accident events – both from their insured, the available evidence and representations made by the other party’s motor insurer (having spoken with their insured(.

Incentives To Accept Liability
The law gives an incentive to motor insurers to accept fault early on in the claims process, so as to limit the amount of legal costs that will have to be paid as part of the claim.

Reluctance when personal injuries are significant

A motor insurer may be more reluctant to formally accept liability if the personal injuries in the accident are severe, even if liability is clear,

Instead, a motor insurer may decide to negotiate a settlement on a without prejudice basis, so as not to leave themselves open for a significant claim later down the track should a reasonable settlement not prove possible.

Is a motor insurer always liable to pay compensation for a personal injury claim?

If there was some form of motor policy in place, even if your motor insurer tries to void it due to non-disclosure of an accident, the insurer will typically be required to pay for the personal injury claim if it is their insured’s fault.

The Motor Insurers Bureau

A body called the MIB can meet claims for uninsured drivers, but if the MIB can find a motor insurer that could be connected with the vehicle they can force that insurer to meet the claim.

Risk Of Your Motor Insurer Chasing You For Payment
Even though a motor insurer may have to meet a vehicle damage and personal injury claim, if they believe that the policy was voided due to not reporting of the accident or non-disclosure, they may attempt to chase their insured for all the expenses and costs they have incurred.

Will your motor insurance premium always go up when you are involved in an accident?

Typically your motor insurance premium will go up whether the accident was your fault or not.

However, the amount it will go up will depend on a number of different possibilities.

Minimal Effect – The accident was not your fault

If your motor insurer determines the accident is not your fault and your claim is met by the person-at-fault’s insurer – the effect on your premium would be very minimal.

Temporary Effect – Uncertain which driver is legally at fault

If liability is uncertain – your insurer may wish to resolve liability before deciding whether your no claims and premium should be affected.

In other instances – there could be an immediate effect on your premium with a refund should the accident be proved to be the fault of the other driver (whose insurer in turn meets the expenses of your claim.

Big Effect – The accident was you fault

If the accident is your fault – even if you do not claim from your insurer, typically your no claims and premium will be affected.

No Claim Initially Made
The other party typically has three years to make a personal injury claim, so your insurer will often still penalise you even if no immediate claim is lodged.

What happens if multiple claims are made for one accident event?

Your road accident is usually looked at as one accident event by your motor insurer. As such all claims stemming from that one event are usually considered one claim for the purpose of the effect on your motor policy premium and no claims bonus.

Multiple claim example

Imagine you are driving on the main road when you are hit by a car coming from the side road. You claim for your vehicle damage and personal injury from the driver-at-fault’s insurer; the driver-at-fault claims for vehicle damage from his own policy; passengers in both cars claim from the driver’s motor insurance. Usually the effect on the driver-at-fault’s insurance policy will be the same as if one claim was made – as this is classed as one accident event with a number of separate parts to one claim stemming from that event.

No claims protection

This can have special relevance for “no claims protection” – which will only protect you up to a certain amount of claims per annum.

Will your insurer fight to get you compensation from the person-at-fault?

Generally, you motor insurer will get in touch with the insurer of the driver at fault to see if liability is accepted, if liability is accepted they will recover your insurance company’s outlay from the other insurer.

However– motor insurance is primarily to insure for certain risks of driving a vehicle – not to make claims on your behalf.

Legal Protection Cover On Your Motor Policy
Should you have legal protection cover, an insurance panel solicitor may be able to help you make a claim.
This is very different than teh insurer themselves making a claim on your behalf.

Vehicle damage

If liability is accepted – your motor insurer will usually recover the repair costs (or write-off value of your vehicle) from the other insurance company.

They will not however recover other losses that you might be entitled to claim – such as personal injury, lost income, etc.

If liability is not accepted – your motor insurer will rarely make any claim against the driver-at-fault.

Personal injury

Your motor insurer will not help you make a claim for personal injury compensation. You must find your own personal injury solicitor to do this or claim on the legal protection aspect of your motor policy (if available).

Summary

Whether you intend to claim against your motor insurer or not; you wish to accept money from the person-at-fault (or feel you are at fault and wish to pay the other driver direct) – always tell your motor insurer about your accident.

You will have then complied with your insurer’s reporting requirement and should there be any future issues you can rest assured that you will have motor insurance in place that will meet any present or future claim.

We recommend you speak direct to one of our solicitors (free of charge) or use our free online legal help – simply select from our free online and telephone legal help and assistance.

You can speak direct to our solicitors, ask a question or have your claim assessed online.