How do I make a car insurance claim when not at fault?

When you are not at fault in an accident, you need to make a claim against the other driver's insurance. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to file a claim when you’re not at fault for a motor vehicle accident.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2022

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Things to remember

  • Even if you’re not at fault, you still need to notify your insurance company of the accident
  • If the state in which the accident takes place is a fault state, your claim can be against the bodily injury coverage of the other driver
  • Preparing information ahead of time such as the other driver’s name and the contact information and policy number of the other car’s insurance company can speed up your claims process

Filing an insurance claim can be a confusing ordeal because of the variables involved, and you may not be sure how to file a car insurance claim when not at fault for an accident. How the claim is handled is determined by a variety of factors, meaning filing a claim for one person may not be the same for another.

That’s why we try to make filing a car insurance claim as simple as possible. We carefully help you through each step so you’re not left wondering if you should be doing something differently. Learn what you need to know about how to file a claim when you’re not at fault.

Making a Car Insurance Claim When Not at Fault

If you are not at fault in the accident, you may think your insurance shouldn’t be involved. However, that depends on where you live. It’s also important to note that fault will be determined by the insurance company after investigating the accident, so it’s likely both insurance companies will be involved. 

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Know the Difference Between a Fault State vs. a No-Fault State

If your accident happens in a fault state — also called a tort state — you may be able to file a claim against the other driver’s liability auto insurance coverage, which could compensate you for your medical bills and damage to your car. If your accident happens in a no-fault state, you can file a claim with your own insurance company for any medical bills. Property damage will still be handled through the other driver’s insurance company.

Understand What To Do After the Accident

Never flee the scene after an accident. If you do, the best possible outcome is a misdemeanor charge, which includes a fine and possible jail time if no one was injured. If anyone was injured in the accident, this can escalate into a felony charge, which can make the potential penalty more severe.

If possible, move your vehicle to a safe place where it’s less likely to be hit by passing traffic. Call the police and then take note of your injuries. If you can see any, take photos of them.

Document the scene if you’re physically able to. Take photos of any damage sustained to the vehicles involved, the other driver’s license plate number, miscellaneous details such as debris or tire marks, and landmarks such as traffic lights and signs or street signs that can determine exactly where the accident took place. Note the time of day as well as the current weather conditions.

If the other driver asks to take a photo of your driver’s license, don’t let them. Identity thieves can use the information on your driver’s license for criminal purposes.

Call the Police Even If the Accident Seems Minor

You can file an insurance claim without a police report, but it is usually a good idea to call the police regardless of the severity of the accident. Calling the police after an accident means the arriving officer will create a report that you may need when filing your car insurance claim. This serves to protect your interests during the investigation. The fault may be determined by details such as if the other driver offers so much as an apology for hitting you, which will be noted in the report.

Get the arriving officer’s name, badge number, and department at the scene when asking for a copy of their report. This can be useful information for your insurer.

Your claims adjuster will review this report as the investigation proceeds.

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Contact Your Insurance Company First, Not the Other Driver’s

If the police agree that you were not at fault for the accident, you may feel like you should contact the other driver’s insurance company. However, you should refrain from doing this, because they will be trying to find fault with your statements. This could influence the swiftness of the claim and your compensation.

In addition, the insurance company will test your statements against the other driver’s, which will slow down the process. If they offer you a settlement, you will not have your own claims adjuster to help you negotiate.

Instead, contact your own insurance company. Even if you’re filing a claim through them, it will still be against the other driver’s insurance company. 

Collect As Much Information as You Can for Your Car Insurance Claim When Not at Fault

To ensure your claim goes smoothly, provide your insurance company with all the relevant information you can. The police report is where your insurance company will begin their investigation, but they also need information from you to determine fault, such as:

  • The name of the other driver
  • The name of the vehicle’s owner, if different
  • The policy number and contact information under which the other car is insured
  • The specific location of your vehicle after the accident
  • Photos of the scene, including any apparent damage each vehicle has sustained
  • Contact information of any passengers or witnesses

If you come prepared with this information, the claims process should be swifter than if you aren’t able to provide such evidence.

Keep Track of Your Medical Expenses

Maintain records of all your treatments related to the crash. Always follow up with your doctors, and don’t be afraid to treat new injuries you discover. Your insurance company will want to know about all your medical bills when you file a claim with them. You have a much stronger case if you keep comprehensive documentation.

You may wish to get a second opinion about your injuries to make sure they were a result of the accident and not due to something else. If you can’t prove that your injuries were a direct result of the crash, you may have difficulty receiving compensation for them.

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Be Confident When Filing a Car Insurance Claim When Not at Fault

If you follow the advice offered in this guide, you should be in a stronger position to file a claim. Keep all of these details in mind and you’re more likely to be compensated for any medical bills and other damages you sustain as a result of the accident.

Even if it seems clear to you that you weren’t at fault for the crash, you will still have to make a strong case with your insurance company. Being prepared for what comes next after an accident can make all the difference in whether you receive adequate compensation.

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