After a car accident, you may receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company, regardless of how clear it may be that the other driver was at fault for the crash. Even in situations where you’re at fault, the other driver’s insurance company could still contact you. Either way, you need to be careful with the information you provide to the other driver’s car insurance company. Read on to learn more.
Let’s quickly answer the question that the title of this article poses: No, you are not legally required to speak with the other insurance company’s representative. Speaking to your own insurance company after a car accident is a different story, however.
Now the question is whether you should speak with the other driver’s insurance company. The answer is less straightforward and will depend on the facts of your accident. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t talk to the other insurance company when there is the potential for anyone involved in the accident (you, the other driver, a passenger) making a claim for serious personal injuries. You also shouldn’t speak with the other driver's insurer if you have a car accident attorney or adjuster from your own insurance company who can speak on your behalf.
Having said that, in some situations, it may make sense to speak with the other insurance company.
It may be a good idea to speak with the other insurance company in the rare instance where the other driver was clearly at fault, but has either refused to speak with, or has lied to, their own insurance company. In that case, the other insurance company may have no idea who was at fault, and will probably not be aware of the extent of your car accident injuries and/or your vehicle damage. In those circumstances, if you don't speak with the other driver's car insurance company, it will be a long time before you get a settlement check from the other insurance company, if at all.
Ideally, your attorney or a representative from your own car insurance company will talk to the other driver's insurer, but this isn’t always possible or practical, especially if it was a very minor accident. So communicating this information will sometimes fall on you. In these situations, you have to be careful what you say.
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 company does not have your interests in mind. It wants to find evidence that you were at fault for the accident, and that your damages or injuries are minor (or nonexistent). So, you shouldn’t tell the insurer that you feel fine or that your injuries are minor. Even if you believe this is the case, some car accident injuries don't show up right away, and minor injuries can turn out to be much more serious than expected.
Second, 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.
Third, 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. However, what you know or feel can easily change just days after the accident.
Fourth, do not guess or speculate as to what happened. If you don’t know, it’s okay to tell the car insurance company that.
Finally, if you need to provide more than just basic, objective details about the accident (beyond the date of the accident, where it occurred, names of any witnesses or the police officer who prepared the police report), ask to have your own car insurance company’s adjuster on the line during the phone call. Even better, just provide the detailed information to your own car insurance’s company’s adjuster and have your adjuster speak directly with the other driver's insurer. Getting assistance from your car insurance company’s adjuster may help prevent you from accidentally saying the wrong thing, or saying more than you have to.
Bottom line: If you’re confident that any injuries and damages are minor and it’s clear the other driver was at fault, you’re probably better off speaking with the other driver’s car insurance company. However, never give them any reason to question who was at fault, or the extent of your injuries or damages. If there’s even a small chance you could have significant injuries or damages, or the question of who caused the accident is in dispute, it's probably smart to not speak with the other driver’s insurance company without legal representation.