Do I Have to Talk to the Other Driver's Car Insurance Company After an Accident?

If you've been in a car accident, it’s usually not a good idea to talk to the other driver’s car insurance company; at the very least, take caution.

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  • At some point after a car accident, you'll probably receive a call from the other driver's insurance company. Here's what to know at the outset:

    • You're typically under no legal obligation to talk to the other driver's car insurance company, and any time you do, it's crucial to watch what you say.
    • If the other driver was at fault for the accident and you're making a claim directly with their insurance company (instead of your own), you'll need to provide some level of cooperation in order to come away with a fair result.
    • Your obligations are different when it comes to communicating with others at the scene of a car accident and later on, including your own car insurance company.

    Who Are You Legally Required to Cooperate With After a Car Accident?

    After a car accident, your legal obligations to communicate with others are usually dictated by state laws and the terms of your insurance policy. You're typically required to talk with:

    • Others involved in the accident. Your state's traffic laws probably require you to stay at the accident scene and exchange key information (driver's license number, insurance coverage details, and contact information). Still, keep communication to a minimum, and be careful what you say at the scene of a car accident.
    • Any law enforcement officer who comes to the accident scene. At minimum you'll be required to provide your driver's license, vehicle registration, and insurance information. You'll also likely be asked a few questions about the accident and how it happened, so the officer can prepare a police report over the car accident. You'll probably need to answer, unless you might be facing criminal charges in connection with the accident (you were driving under the influence, for example).
    • Your own insurance company. Any time you're involved in an incident that might trigger coverage under your car insurance policy, your contract with the insurer requires you to notify the insurance company within a reasonable amount of time, and cooperate with the insurer's investigation of the car accident.

    What about the other driver's insurance company? This leads us to the focus of this article, so let's get to it.

    You're Not Required to Speak With the Other Driver's Insurance Company

    You're not legally required to speak with the other insurance company's representative.

    The first time an insurance adjuster for the other driver's insurance company contacts you will likely be fairly soon after your car accident. But they're not checking in to see how you're doing, or to have a chat. The insurance adjuster has the insurance company's bottom line in mind here, and the goals of this conversation include:

    • getting you to say something that might make it easier for the adjuster to pin fault for the car accident squarely on you, and
    • getting you to accept quick payment now to settle your car accident claim, maybe before you've even decided to file one, and before you understand how badly you're hurt. Once you accept a settlement, of course, the fine print of the agreement will make it clear that you've lost your right to take any further action over the accident. So, if you're hurt worse than you know, or you end up needing more medical treatment than you and your doctor thought, you can't go back and ask for more money.

    All this means that if the other driver's insurance company contacts you after a car accident, tell their representative (politely but firmly) any of the following that might apply:

    • you're not going to discuss the specifics of the accident, how it happened, or who's to blame
    • you're still receiving medical treatment in connection with your car accident injuries
    • you're not going to accept any money from the insurance company at this time, you're not going to sign anything, and you're not going to talk settlement, and
    • you're working with your own car insurance company and/or with an attorney to figure out your options.

    What If the Other Driver's Insurance Company Keeps Calling Me?

    If the insurance adjuster keeps calling or emailing you, remain calm, repeat some or all of the talking points we've provided above, and tell the adjuster to contact your insurance company if they need more information about the accident. You can also let the adjuster know that you're thinking about turning your claim over to an attorney, and that's looking increasingly likely if the calls/emails don't stop.

    When Is it a Good Idea to Speak with the Other Driver's Insurance Company?

    If the other driver was at fault for your car accident, and their insurance company has accepted financial responsibility for the crash, you might find yourself making a "third party car insurance claim" directly with the other driver's insurer.

    In this situation, you'll need to talk with the other driver's insurer, provide them with all documents related to your claimed losses, and give them access to your accident-related medical records. The good news is that at this point, fault for the accident shouldn't be in dispute. The bad news is that the insurance adjuster still has the company's interest in mind here, not yours. So be ready for some pushback on things like the nature and extent of your injuries (were they preexisting?, the adjuster might wonder) and the legitimacy of some of your treatment (adjusters don't like chiropractors, for example).

    Ideally, your attorney or a representative from your own car insurance company will deal with the other driver's insurer, but this isn't always possible or practical. So communicating this information will sometimes fall on you. In these situations, you have to be careful what you say.

    Tips When Talking with the Other Driver's Car Insurance Company

    First, always remember that the primary goal of the other driver's car insurance company is to pay out as little money as possible. The adjuster wants to find evidence that you were at fault for the accident, or that your injuries are minor (or nonexistent).

    Don't discuss how you're feeling, or how bad your injuries might be. Even if talking about the nature and extent of your injuries is a good idea (it's not), it's almost certainly too early to have this kind of discussion. Remember (and remind the adjuster) that some car accident injuries don't show up right away, and minor injuries can turn out to be much more serious than expected.

    Don't make any apologies or statements about your role in the accident. Anything you say to the other driver's car insurance company can serve as a basis for refusing to pay you anything, or reducing the value of your claim.

    Only answer the question asked. Do not volunteer additional information or agree to have your statement recorded, whether it's over the phone or in writing. The purpose of a recorded or written statement is to lock you into a certain version of events, including the extent of your injuries or property damage.

    Do not guess or speculate as to an answer. If you don't know, it's okay to tell the car insurance company that.

    Refer the adjuster to your own car insurance company. If you're asked to provide more than just basic details about the accident, ask the adjuster to get it from your car insurance company, or ask to have a representative from your car insurance company's adjuster on the line during the call.

    Getting Help After a Car Accident

    When you're injured in a car accident and you're getting phone calls or emails from insurance companies, it's tough to know how to proceed. There are situations in which it might make sense to handle a car accident claim on your own. But if your injuries are significant and you're getting any amount of pushback in the insurance claim process, it's probably a good idea to discuss your situation with a legal professional.

    Learn more about when you might need a car accident lawyer and what to expect during your first meeting. If you're ready to reach out now, you can use the features on this page to connect with a car accident lawyer in your area.

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