Car Accident Coverage: Questions for Your Agent

The more you know and understand about car insurance, accident coverage, and your own policy, the better off you are.

Ask the following "starter" questions to understand the types and extent of coverage (also ask about rate increase or decrease situations). You’ll think of more questions as you go.

Want more questions about general coverage? Read our article Car Insurance Questions for an additional list of questions to ask.

  1. Reporting an Accident:
    • Do I have to report an accident to the police if it doesn’t involve another vehicle?
    • Do I have to report an accident to the police if it involves property damage and the owner says I can just pay him/her?
    • Do I have to notify my insurance company if there's (no) property damage?
    • Are there any implications I should be aware of either way?
  2. Giving a Statement:
    • If the police officer wants to take a statement, and I still feel too shaken or injured to have a clear recollection, can I postpone giving my statement? How long?
    • If I believe that I wasn’t at fault, but the officer says he has witness statements that disagree with me, can I ask to see the statements?
    • What kind of information should I offer when I give my statement?
    • Is it appropriate for me to solicit statements or at least contact information from witnesses? Why or why not?
  3. Filing a Claim:
    • What kind of documentation should I take immediately following an accident?
  4. Repairs:
    • If my vehicle is damaged, how quickly can I expect to see an adjuster?
    • If the adjuster determines that the car is repairable, can I choose to take a check (less my deductible) instead of repairing it at that site?
    • Do I have to work with a pre-approved body shop or can I take the car to shop of my choosing?
  5. Renting a Car:
    • If I was cited, how does this affect my ability to rent a car?
    • If my car is damaged, how long will it take the insurance company to authorize a rental (assuming it is included on my policy)? Who makes the arrangements? Do I need to keep the receipts?
  6. Citations:
    • What can I expect my insurance company to do if I am at fault? If I am not at fault but am cited? If the other driver was at fault but isn’t insured or is fighting the case? Get details of costs to you, average length of time to resolve the issues.
    • If I am cited, how long will it stay on my driving record and how long will it affect my insurance rates?
  7. Insurance Rates:
    • If this was my first offense, how will my insurance rates increase?
    • If this was my first accident, how will my insurance rates increase?
    • How will my insurance rates decrease (e.g. avoiding accidents for a year+)? Is there a "safe driver" program?
  8. Legal Fees:
    • If I am in an accident, does the policy include legal fees if I have to go to court? How do I get that on my policy and how much does it cost?

BusinessWeek.com has a great article on Car Insurance: Five Mistakes to Avoid.