Do you need a police report when making an insurance claim?
In most cases, you don’t need a police report in order to make a claim with your insurance company.
However, a police report can speed up the claims process to get you paid faster. It can also be used to prove certain damage or fault, ensuring you get paid the appropriate amount.
A police report is also a necessary piece of evidence in the case that there is a lawsuit with another party.
Why and when should you involve the police in an auto accident? How would this impact your insurance?
Why involve the police?
A police accident report paints a complete picture of the damage and personal injury incurred by an auto accident. The police will include information that could help you in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Police accident reports usually include necessary information for a claim:
- Suggestion of at-fault or responsible party and why
- Weather conditions
- Location of accident
- Time and date
- Description of road
- Description of vehicles
- Description of drivers (intoxication, etc.)
This can help prove who is at-fault for the incident—you, the other party, the weather, or another factor. This also makes the claims process easier, because the information you need for the insurance paperwork is already consolidated in one place.
A filed report can become a key piece of evidence in a claim or lawsuit. If you enter into a court case with another driver or party, the police report is an objective, third party description of the accident.
You might also be required to involve the police in some states. Different states require police reports for varying levels of damage. For example, Massachusetts requires a police report if someone is injured or there is more than $1,000 in property damage. In Alabama, it’s necessary when an accident results in death or personal injury of more than $250 to either party.
Talk to an InsuraMatch agent to find out the specific requirements in the states in which you drive.
When in doubt, call the police.
Is a police report necessary for insurance claims?
You can file an insurance claim without a police accident report, but it might be harder to prove fault or damage. Your insurer will have to take your word, and they might not be willing to pay out the full amount you’re owed. A police report helps prove back up your claims, especially if you are stating that you weren’t at fault for the accident.
In conjunction with a police report, you’ll also want other evidence and documentation to support your claim. This includes photos of the scene and both vehicles. Any medical expenses and bills will need to be submitted as well. You’ll also need to get quotes from multiple body shops so an adjustor can determine how much your repairs are worth.
Documentation ensures that you have proof of your word. You may not always agree with the police report, so additional documentation can help prove your case.
Ultimately, a police report helps the insurance adjustor review your case and determine how much money you’ll receive from the insurance company.
This is especially important if you are found partially at-fault. For example, if you are found 30% responsible for a collision, your insurance company might only pay for 70% of your bills. The police report can determine responsibility, which directly correlates to how much your insurance company will payout in a claim.
Below are the following situations you might encounter when dealing with auto insurance claims and police accounts.
Collision with another car
You should always get a copy of the police accident report when you’re in an accident with another car.
It might seem that both parties are safe and polite after an accident. So you exchange insurance information and don’t involve the police. But the next day, you or the other party wakes up with an injury or more damage than they expected.
This can create messy lawsuits—with no police report to back up either side. It becomes your word against the other driver’s, which can create a costly lawsuit that doesn’t always work out in your favor.
No matter how nice the other driver is, call the police for an official report of damage.
An accident with another car would fall under your collision insurance.
Collision with stationary object
You don’t always need a police report if you collide with a stationary object. However, if you believe you’re not at-fault for the accident, you might want to get a third-party objective review with a police officer.
The accident report will include any personal injury you incur as well as the extent of the damage. It will also include any external factors, like bad weather conditions or a missing stop sign. This can help prove that you weren’t at-fault, which can help speed up the claims process.
Keep in mind that the object you hit might also be considered personal property. You could end up getting sued for damage to someone’s mailbox, pole, or trees, for example. A police report can help prove your responsibility in the accident and the extent of damage, so you aren’t on the hook for more money in the case of a lawsuit.
Accidents with a stationary object or other damage from weather would be covered under your comprehensive auto insurance.
Collision on private property
Police typically won’t file a report for accidents that happen on private property. For example, police might not respond to a call if your teenage son hits the garage door or your friend backs up into your mailbox.
These are considered “personal” matters, and police will usually only file reports on public property like roads, backstreets, highways, and public property. Even your local pharmacy or coffee shop might be considered private property.
It doesn’t hurt to call police anyway, though.
Theft or vandalism
You should always get a police report if your car was stolen, vandalized, or broken into. This is a “unique” case that needs to be proven with your insurance company.
If you don’t call the police, your insurance company might say that there’s not enough proof that you had those items in the car or that the automobile was stolen by a third party.
A police report can help prove your word—and might even help retrieve your valuables.
Make sure you are fully covered for theft and vandalism with comprehensive auto insurance.
Although your insurance company won’t always require a police report, accurate documentation from police can speed up the claims process, ensure you’re paid the correct amount, and prove your side in the case of a lawsuit.
When in doubt, call the police and get a copy of the report. Having third-party documentation could save you heartache and financial troubles down the road.
Talk to an InsuraMatch agent to find out how auto incidents will impact your insurance. We look forward to hearing from you!