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Reporting an Accident to Insurance: Everything You Need to Know

Reporting an accident to insurance is one of the many steps you will have to take after being in an accident.

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Reporting an accident to insurance is one of the many steps you will have to take after being in an accident. How, and when, to report the accident varies, depending on your state's laws and your type of coverage. Read on to learn how to report a car accident to the insurance company.

Reporting an Accident to Insurance: When to Report

While the time immediately following an accident can be hectic, you should contact the insurance company as soon as possible. Some insurance companies have time limits on how long you have to file a claim, so it is important to be mindful of these. These time limits vary, depending on the provider.

How to Report an Accident to Insurance

If you are involved in a car accident, you will need to report it to the insurance provider. You can report an accident to your insurance company with the following steps:

Step One- Determine Your State's Insurance Laws

Some U.S. states are no-fault, whereas others are not. If you live in a no-fault insurance state, then you will need to report your car accident to your insurance company, regardless of who is at fault. If you do not live in a no-fault insurance state, then you will report an accident to the other driver's insurance provider if they are at fault.

Step Two- Determine the Type of Insurance You Have

It is also important to consider the type of auto insurance that you have. If you have minimum coverage and you were responsible for the accident, your provider will likely not cover any of your damages. You can still report the accident, but they will only cover the damages that you cause to another driver.

If the other driver was at fault for the accident and you experienced injuries or property damage, then you will contact their insurance company. Many providers, including GEICO, make it easy to report an accident using their mobile app or online form.

Step Three- Gather Important Details

When you call to report the accident, they will likely ask you for certain details. Having this information ahead of time can prepare you to file a claim. Some information that you may need includes:

  • The insured driver's name.
  • The insurance policy number.
  • Date and time of the accident.
  • Police report number if you have one.
  • Driver's license number of everyone involved.
  • Details of the accident.

It can also be helpful to collect any details that may be beneficial to the insurance adjuster. This might include things like photographs or videos from the accident, as well as statements from any witnesses.

Step Four- Contact the Insurance Company

While you do want to provide the insurance company with all relevant details when reporting an accident to them, it is best to avoid admitting fault or accepting blame. Without all of the details present, it is not always possible to identify who was at fault. An at-fault accident can lead to higher insurance rates, as well as the potential for a third-party lawsuit. Simply provide the insurance company with a list of facts.

What to Expect After Reporting an Accident to Insurance

You can expect a few things to happen after reporting an accident to insurance:

  • The insurance company will create a claims report: This report will include details of the accident that they receive from you or anyone else involved in the accident.
  • The insurance company may request additional information: The insurance company may request additional information. This might include a copy of the police report or any evidence you have.
  • The insurance company will begin an investigation into the accident: They will assign an insurance adjuster to your account. They may come to your location or wherever the vehicle is stored.
  • The insurance company will issue a resolution: After reviewing the available information and completing an inspection, the insurance company will issue a resolution.

A resolution will include a decision to either accept or deny your insurance claim. If the insurance company accepts your claim, they will also specify an amount that they will provide you to cover your damages.

How to Deal With an Increase in Insurance Following Accident

You may notice an increase in your insurance rates following the insurance claim. This may occur, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. This is because having an accident on your record makes insurance companies consider you a higher-risk driver.

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to off-set the potential increase in insurance rates:

  • Shop around: If your insurance company increases your rates following an accident, it may be time to shop around for better rates.
  • Take advantage of discounts: Discounts can be a good way to offset increased rates due to a car accident. Find out if you are eligible for any discounts that you are not currently receiving.
  • Take a defensive driver course: Some insurance companies offer a discount in return for policyholders taking a defensive driving course.
  • Improve your credit score: A clean driving record is one of the best ways to get affordable insurance rates. With an accident, you may no longer qualify but you can look for other ways to save, like improving your credit score.

If your current insurance provider increases your rates following an accident, you do have options available to shop around and look for a better deal.

Reporting an accident to insurance is important to ensure that you, or the other driver, receives the compensation you need to pay for medical bills or damages. Even though insurance companies are known for increasing rates after a car accident, you can always shop around and find a new provider. Check this out if you need additional information, resources, or guidance on car insurance.

How to Report an Accident to Insurance | findlaw.com

What to Do After a Car Accident | geico.com

Car Accident Insurance: Everything You Need to Know | caranddriver.com

Calling Insurance After Accident: What You Need to Know | caranddriver.com

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How To File An Accident Report With The Police

Filing an accident report with the police is an essential step to take after a car accident.

The police report can provide valuable information for your car insurance company, and it can help protect you in the event of an accident-related lawsuit.

The Value of Police Reports

Depending on where you live, you may be required to contact your police department and file a report.

Even if the law does not require it, it is wise to file a police report even if the accident seems minor. Consider the following:

  • Injuries may not become apparent for a few days or weeks.
  • You may not notice all of the damage to your car immediately.
  • The other party may make false claims about the car accident later.
  • The other party may admit fault to you but change his mind as time passes.

Police Reports and Car Insurance Claims

A police report helps you in a number of ways:

  • It helps facilitate the claims process with your auto insurance company.
  • It can mean a quicker payout on your claim, as fault and accident details will be easier to determine with the report.
  • Should your accident escalate into in a court case, your attorney will need a copy of the police report.

However, understand that even if you file a police report, you do not automatically have to file a claim with your car insurance company. If the amount of damage to your car is small and your car insurance deductible is high, you might want to pay the expenses yourself without involving your car insurance company. This may help you avoid accident-related rate hikes in the future.

Information to Include in Your Police Report

Make your police report as detailed and accurate as possible. Take notes and photos at the scene of the accident to gather information and help you remember. Include as much of the following information as you can:

  • Description of what happened.
  • Number of passengers in the other driver’s car.
  • Driver’s name and insurance information.
  • If possible, record their account of the accident using your cell phone.
  • The damages your vehicles sustained.
  • Injuries to yourself or your passengers.

Remember to take photos of the scene, your vehicle, and your injuries.

The Next Steps

The law enforcement officer will collect your information and then submit the report to their department. At the scene, the officer may cite (issue a ticket to) one or more drivers for traffic violations.

While at the accident scene, ask for a card with the officer's name on it in case you need to contact the officer later. The officer's name will appear on the report, but the handwriting might be difficult to read.

Obtaining the Report

Usually you can obtain a copy to review within one or two days. If you filed a claim with your car insurance company, your provider may ask you for a copy of the police report.

Why Police Might Not Come to the Scene

The police don’t always make it to the scene of a car accident. There are three common reasons why they might not come if you have an accident.

  • The accident did not cause injuries.
  • The total value of the property damage was too small . In some jurisdictions, a police officer may not be required to show up to the scene if the estimated damage is less than $500.
  • The conditions are too extreme . After an earthquake or in severe weather, such as blizzards or hurricanes, your accident may take lower priority than other accidents or traffic needs.

What to Do if the Police Don’t Come

If a police officer doesn’t come to the scene of the auto accident, you can actually go to the police department to file your report. You can often do so online or at the police station.

You can also file an accident report with the DMV . In some cases, you may actually be required to do so. Visit our page on filing accident reports with the DMV to learn more.

Remember, the more documentation you have, the more evidence you have to support your claim.

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Police Reports: What You Should Know

August 26, 2019 | Legal Info

Police reports  can provide important evidence for your accident injury case, but possibly not in the way you think. If you are in a car accident that results in injury, major property damage, or death, the police will usually respond to the incident and complete a police report. Officially, this is usually termed a “Traffic Collision Report.” The purpose of this report is to provide an objective summary of the events of the accident and the damages and injuries involved. A police report can be helpful to your accident injury claim, but it is important to understand how it is used, and what information it contains. Here are the key facts you should know about police reports.

1. Police reports have a unique service number, which is already assigned at the accident scene.

Request this number from the police officer who responds; this will make it easier for you to request a copy later. Be sure to collect information about the specific police precinct or jurisdiction, so you know where follow up later.

2. The final assessment of fault is not usually made at the scene.

The police report captures information about the drivers, witnesses and others at the accident scene, and any factors that contributed to the accident. It may include the specific vehicle code the at-fault party violated, mechanical failure, weather or road conditions. It may also include the police officer’s initial assessment of fault. Once the officers have gathered the relevant information, including photographs and witness statements, they will make a determination of fault and finalize the report. This is usually completed within about five days.

3. You can obtain a copy of the police report.

Police reports are public records, so once it is complete, you have a right to obtain a copy. Typically, you must make a report request with the relevant police department. The police department may charge you a small fee for processing the documents — but TorkLaw will provide you with a free, no-obligation copy of your police report. Fill out this online police report form . We will order your report and deliver it at no cost to you, whether or not you choose our firm to represent you. [tork-button size=”big_large_full_width” style=”” text=”Order Your Free Police Report” icon_pack=”” fa_icon=”” fe_icon=”” icon_color=”” link=”https://www.torklaw.com/resources/police-report/” color=”” hover_color=”” border_color=”” hover_border_color=”” background_color=”” hover_background_color=”” font_style=”” font_weight=”” text_align=”” margin=””]

4. You should review police reports carefully to check all the facts, and make sure the information is accurate.

Check the following information to ensure nothing is incorrect or missing:

  • Make Sure the Date Is Correct. One of the most important parts of the traffic collision report (TCR) is the date of the accident. This is critical when calculating specific deadlines (statute of limitations) set by law that can bar you from filing a claim or lawsuit. When you get your accident report, make sure that the date is correct.
  • Make Sure the Location is Correct. Check the exact location indicated for where the incident occurred, to ensure it is fully accurate.
  • Party Identification: This section identifies the parties involved as Party 1 (P1), Party 2 (P2), etc. Confirm that all this information is current. An important part of this section is the “Insurance Carrier” and “Policy Number.” This section is frequently left blank or has inaccurate information. If the other party’s information is out of date, a lawyer . An experienced personal injury lawyer can order a background check and find insurance information for defendants, even if the report indicates that none was available.
  • Vehicle Information and Owner’s Information: First, check to make sure you own vehicle information is correct. Then, check the other party’s information. If the other vehicle owner is different than the driver, that information will be noted in this section. This is important in determining liability and finding insurance coverage. If the owner is different than the driver, you or your lawyer should investigate for additional insurance policies that either one may have.
  • Primary Collision Factor: This section will indicate which party (1 or 2) was the primary collision factor and indicate a vehicle code violation. Did the Police Take Pictures? If so, make sure you order copies of those photos. If this section left blank, contact the police department to confirm whether any pictures were taken. Photographs will be very important to your case.
  • Witness and Passenger Information: The witness and passenger information is an important part of the traffic collision report, as these people may be able to testify on your behalf if needed.
  • Other Associated Factors: The police report will also include information on whether the police officer believes other contributory factors may have caused the collision. You and/or your lawyer should pay particular attention to this section as it can play a critical role in your case, especially if liability is disputed.

5. You can petition the relevant police department to have police reports amended.

Of course, the police will not accept all proposed amendments. You need to provide proof of error. Errors in police reports fall into these categories:

  • A factual mistake: Simple, easily verifiable mistakes, such as listing the wrong model of car, are normally easy to have corrected.
  • Incomplete information: If you find additional or overlooked evidence that was not included in the police report, and it does not contradict the officer’s testimony, it may be easy to add.

If, however, you made an incorrect statement due to confusion or disorientation or feel the officer made a mistake in judgment, these will be more difficult to change. Your best course of action is to ask for your own version of events to be added. If you feel the statements you made immediately after the accident are not reliable because you were in pain or disoriented, you should provide medical records to support that. If the police do allow you to add a statement or additional evidence, it is important to be as thorough and accurate as possible. If you are dealing with police report errors, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you make sure the police report is something that bolsters your case, rather than detracts from it. Statements by parties, witnesses, conclusions, diagrams, drawings, calculations, measurements etc. are all important. Our law firm routinely handles cases with problematic police reports which we are able to overcome by properly conducting our own investigation, discovery, depositions and aggressive litigation.

6. The insurance company conducts its own investigation of the accident.

When you file a car insurance claim with the relevant insurance company, you will send them the police report. They will conduct their own investigation, as part of the claims process. This investigation will rely heavily on the police report, so it is important to ensure your police report is accurate. While it doesn’t happen very often, the final assessment of fault by the insurer’s adjuster may differ from that of the police.

7. Possibly the most important thing to know about police reports: they are usually not admissible in district courts.

It depends on the jurisdiction, but generally, police reports are not admissible as evidence in district courts. Since the police officer typically did not witness the accident firsthand, police reports are considered “hearsay,” which cannot be used in courts, except for very specific circumstances. (Police reports may, however, be used in small claims court.) If your police report contains inaccuracies or is incomplete, and the insurance company’s claims adjuster is using that information to deny or reduce your claim, your best course of action is to contact an experienced car accident attorney. The attorneys at TorkLaw can conduct our own investigation to ensure the insurance company pays you what you are owed. Use the form on this page to schedule a free consultation with one of TorkLaw’s lawyers, who can help you navigate the road ahead. All consultations are free, and there is no obligation whatsoever. For more useful information about how to deal with a car accident, read our book for free online:  Accidents Happen: A Consumer’s Guide to the Personal Injury an Wrongful Death System.

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How to Write a Motor Vehicle Accident Report

Last Updated: December 12, 2023 Approved

Gathering Information

Describing the incident, diagramming the scene, sample accident report, expert q&a.

This article was co-authored by Lahaina Araneta, JD and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Lahaina Araneta, Esq. is an Immigration Attorney for Orange County, California with over 6 years of experience. She received her JD from Loyola Law School in 2012. In law school, she participated in the immigrant justice practicum and served as a volunteer with several nonprofit agencies. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 496,427 times.

Typically when you're in an accident on the road, the police will complete a police report describing the accident. However, in some cases you may need to submit your own report, either to your insurance company or your state's DMV. If you need to write a motor vehicle report, take time to gather accurate information so you can describe the incident with as much detail as possible. [1] X Research source

Things You Should Know

  • Copy down the driver's license, vehicle, and insurance information from the other driver. Get contact information for any witnesses, as well.
  • Explain what happened and who was involved, including the location and nature of the accident as well as any injuries or property damage.
  • Take photos and/or create a diagram of the scene that shows what happened.

Step 1 Get identification and insurance information from the other driver.

  • Check to make sure that there are no injuries. If someone is hurt, call for help first before trying to get their information.
  • Get the other driver's license. Write down their name, home address, birth date, and gender. You'll also want the name of the state that issued their license, their license number, and the date it expires. Give them this information for yourself as well.
  • If the other driver does not have insurance or identification, call the police. Tell the police that you cannot get the required legal documents of the other driver. They will come out and handle the situation.

Step 2 Write down information about the vehicles involved.

  • Write down specifics about where there is damage. For example, you might say "Sedan has broken bumper and dent in the rear quarter panel."
  • Take down the license tag number for all the vehicles, along with the name of the state. You also might want to make note of the vehicle's VINs (vehicle identification numbers) for insurance purposes.

Step 3 Ask for identification and contact information for everyone on scene.

  • If you get their phone number, make a note of when is the best time to reach them at that number.

Step 4 Take pictures of the scene.

  • Take your photos as soon as possible after the accident occurs, so the light and weather conditions are similar. Photograph the scene from multiple angles if it is possible for you to do this safely.
  • You also might want to take pictures of all the people involved in the accident. These can be helpful later if someone claims an injury later when they seemed fine at the scene.
  • If you were injured, take pictures of your injuries as soon as possible – ideally, before they are treated by a medical professional.

Step 5 Get statements from any witnesses.

  • It's best to get a statement from a witness at the scene, and then get their phone number in case you need to follow up with them later. Many witnesses won't come forward after the accident. If possible, take a video or audio recording on your phone of their statement.
  • Write down exactly where they were when the accident occurred. If possible, take pictures of the scene from where they were standing, so you have an image of their vantage point. If there are any signs, posts, trees, or other objects obscuring their line of sight, make a note of those as well.

Step 1 List the names and identifying information of all people involved.

  • You'll also need the same information for any other drivers who were involved in the accident. If there were passengers or pedestrians also involved in the accident, provide their names, ages, and genders.
  • Get numbers of first-responder vehicles and the names and badge numbers of first responders, if possible.

Step 2 State the conditions when the accident occurred.

  • Your city or state may have a specific form for you to fill out that includes spaces for specific details, such as the weather, light, and road conditions.
  • If you don't remember the conditions and weren't able to take any photos, leave these details blank – don't just guess or look up an old weather report. You need to be able to vouch for every detail included in your report.
  • Provide any photos or videos you have showing the conditions at the time of the accident to support your case.

Step 3 Detail the location of the accident.

  • For example, if the accident occurred on the interstate, you would need to note the name and direction of the interstate as well as the mile markers or any exits before and after the accident. Include the estimated distance from the nearest marker.
  • On city streets, you also might want to include any landmarks. Describe the street, including whether there is a sidewalk or bike lane.
  • If any other property was involved, describe it as well as where it is relative to the street.

Step 4 Provide a chronological account of what happened.

  • For example, suppose the other driver rolled through an intersection and hit the side of your car while you had the right of way. You can say that you had the right of way – that's a fact. However, a statement such as "the other driver wasn't paying attention" would be an opinion.
  • If there are gaps in your memory or specific details you don't remember, state in your report that you don't remember. That way you can fill in the detail later if your memory returns.
  • If there were pedestrians involved, describe what they were doing. For example, the pedestrian may have been crossing the street in the sidewalk, or may have run out in traffic to retrieve something.

Step 5 Identify any witnesses.

  • You also might want to describe where they were located relative to the scene of the accident and what they saw. For example, the person may have been standing on the corner waiting to cross the street when the accident happened, or they may have come over afterward.
  • If you managed to get a video or recording of the witness, include it in your report. If the witness doesn't come forward, this recording can act as evidence instead.

Step 6 Discuss what happened after the accident.

  • If you or anyone else called 911, give an approximate time that call took place and describe who showed up at the scene.
  • If paramedics arrived, discuss whether anyone was treated at the scene or transported to a hospital for further treatment.

Step 7 Detail any injuries and property damage.

  • Provide a rough estimate of property damage or damage to vehicles involved in the crash. You should state specifically if you believe a vehicle to be totaled.
  • If there were any fatalities as a result of the accident, list them separately. Include the name, age, and gender of anyone injured, and classify the severity of their injuries as best you can. Describe where on the body the injury was located and the person's role in the accident. If they were immediately transported to a hospital, provide the name of the hospital where they were taken.

Step 1 Sketch out the streets.

  • Just stick to the specific road or other area where the accident took place. There's no need to include adjoining blocks or side streets if they weren't directly involved in the accident.
  • Make sure you have the correct number of lanes and that any traffic lights or signs are marked correctly.

Step 2 Orient your drawing.

  • For example, suppose the accident occurred at an intersection. You were heading north, while the other car was headed west. Draw an arrow for the cars to indicate the direction in which they're traveling, and write out each of the directions along the four sides of your drawing.

Step 3 Place the cars in the roadway.

  • If there were other cars nearby that weren't involved in the accident, you can still draw boxes for them if you want, but don't worry about getting too detailed. Other cars are only really important to the extent that they affected the ability of you or the other driver to avoid the accident.

Step 4 Include information about the impact.

  • If the speed the cars were traveling is in dispute, make a note of this on your report, but keep your reported facts objective. If you thought the driver of the other car was going faster than they claimed they were going, simply say it appeared they were going one speed, but they claim they were going another speed.

Step 5 Note the location of any witnesses.

  • If they were in another vehicle but were not involved in the accident, draw a box to represent their vehicle and put their "X" inside. Note if they were a passenger or driver of the vehicle, and where they were seated.
  • If a witness's view was partially obstructed, include whatever obstructed their view in your diagram.

Step 6 Sign and date your accident report.

  • After you sign and date your accident report, make a copy of it for your records before you submit it to the relevant authorities.
  • Generally you want to submit your accident report as soon as possible after the accident occurred. Check with the company or department where you need to send your report and find out if there's a deadline you must meet.

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  • ↑ https://www.dmv.org/insurance/when-to-report-an-auto-accident-to-the-dmv.php
  • ↑ https://www.dmv.ca.gov/web/eng_pdf/sr1.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.findlaw.com/injury/car-accidents/after-a-car-accident-first-steps.html
  • ↑ https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Forms/DMV/32fill.pdf
  • ↑ https://dmv.ny.gov/forms/mv104.pdf
  • ↑ https://thelawdictionary.org/article/how-to-write-an-accident-report/
  • ↑ https://dmv.ny.gov/forms/mv104.pdf/

About This Article

Lahaina Araneta, JD

To write a motor vehicle accident report, start by getting the other driver’s name and insurance information. You should also write down information about their vehicle, including the year, make, model, color, and license plate number, as well as a description of the damage. For example, you might say "Sedan has broken bumper and dent in the rear quarter panel." If you have a camera or smart phone, take pictures of the vehicle damage, the surrounding area, and any injuries so you can describe the incident in your report in as much detail as possible. For more tips from our legal co-author, like how to make a diagram of the accident, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Determining when to report an accident to insurance is pivotal in the aftermath of a car-related incident. Understanding the timeframe within which you need to report an accident is not only essential for adhering to regulatory requirements but also for ensuring the smooth processing of any potential insurance claims. Given that such incidents are recorded on your driving history and can influence your insurance rates for several years, it’s important for your insurer to be informed promptly. This guide aims to shed light on the critical timelines and considerations you should be aware of following a car accident. By arming yourself with this knowledge, you can navigate the post-accident procedures with confidence, ensuring that your rights are protected and your recovery process is as seamless as possible.

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How long do I have to report an accident to my insurance?

Requirements for reporting accidents to your insurance provider vary. Every state has a different statute of limitations when it comes to how long you have to report a car accident. The standard across most states is within 10 days of the accident but some jurisdictions, such as New York, have a 24-hour reporting requirement. The time limit could also vary depending on the type of damage involved. For example, the statute of limitations for filing a bodily injury claim may be shorter than it is for filing comprehensive or property damage claims .

Your car insurance company may have its own protocols for claims filing , too. Check your policy for details. Being aware of the allotted time for claim filing could help you determine if you’ll be able to resolve the claim through insurance or need to pay out-of-pocket for repairs.

Learn more: 7 steps to take after an auto accident

Why would I wait to file a claim?

After an accident, some damages or injuries may not become apparent until days or weeks later. If you think this may be the case for you, it could be a good idea to wait to file a claim. Most insurance professionals recommend consulting your insurance company on the appropriate timeline for your claim.

Regardless, it’s important to be aware of your state’s statute of limitations and file a claim within the timeframe set by your state’s insurance laws. Depending on the state you live in, you typically have three years or less after the accident date to file a claim. If you file later than is mandated, the insurer may have the right to reject your claim.

Learn more: Should I file an insurance claim for bumper damage?

Statute of limitations by state

Each state has its own statute of limitations for claim filing, which insurance companies have to abide by. The following are the limitations in each state:

State table

Can my insurance company deny my claim.

The longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult it may be to reach a resolution. And not filing an accident report within the state-established timeframe could lead to the denial of your claim at a later date. If too much time has gone by, it could be harder to establish evidence for your case. This is especially true for bodily injury damages, as there needs to be a clear connection that the accident caused the injuries. Other reasons your insurance company could deny your claim may include:

  • A further investigation indicates that false claims were made about the accident.
  • The damage in question is not covered by your insurance policy.
  • The cost of collision or comprehensive damage to your vehicle is less than your policy’s deductible, making it a minor accident .

Your car insurance company may have a specific deadline for filing a claim that is different than the state’s statute of limitations. Make sure to read your policy documents for details.

How long do I have to report a car accident to the police?

Filing a car accident report with your police department should be done as soon as possible after an accident, especially if there are major damages and injuries. Similar to filing car insurance claims, time limits for filing police reports vary by state. For example, Tennessee requires that police reports be filed within 20 days of an accident, while Louisiana requires police reports to be filed immediately. Also, in Texas , if a law enforcement officer investigates a motor vehicle crash that results in injury, death or property damage of $1,000 or more, they are required to submit a crash report to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) within 10 days of the incident. Even if the at-fault driver has not been determined yet, it may be a good idea for all parties to file a police report.

When you file an insurance claim, your insurer will likely ask for a copy of the police report. Therefore, getting it done sooner may make the claims process easier for you.

Frequently asked questions

Do all car insurance claims require a police report, how do i report an accident to my insurance company, will every claim i file affect my car insurance rates, do i make the claim through my insurance or the other driver’s, related articles.

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Home > Claims Center | Report Or Check An Insurance Claim > Learn About the Complete Insurance Claims Process

How to Report a Car Accident Insurance Claim Online

Reporting Your Claim Is Convenient, Easy, And Quick

You can report your Auto, Motorcycle, Windshield/Glass, RV, ATV, or Mechanical Breakdown claim online and receive the same prompt, thorough, and courteous service that our customers receive over the phone.

To report your claim online , simply log in and select the type of claim you need to report.

You will then be asked to provide:

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  • a general description of what happened

Throughout the report we may ask you for additional information such as contact information for other parties, vehicle locations, property owner information, and police report details. While this information is helpful to have as soon as possible, you can still report your claim without it.

We will follow up with you right away.

Once you complete the claim report we will send you a confirmation email, and you will be able to view and manage your claim right away.

A GEICO claim examiner will call you to explain the next steps, confirm the details, and arrange for a GEICO auto damage adjuster to inspect your vehicle damage. This examiner will also be able to answer any questions you may have. (If you submit your claim later than 8:00 PM, we will usually call you the next morning.

Report your claim by phone.

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File a claim in as little as 5 minutes with the GEICO Mobile app.

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  • Chapter 4: Accident Reporting

An Accident Reporting and Investigation Plan prescribes methods and practices for reporting and investigating accidents that can be read and understood by all managers, supervisors, and employees. No matter how conscientious the safety efforts are, accidents are going to happen, sometimes due to human or system error.

This written Accident Reporting and Investigation Plan is intended to demonstrate The University of Mary Washington’s compliance with the requirements in OSHA 29 CFR 1904 by:

  • Prescribing methods and practices for reporting and investigating accidents
  • Providing a means to deal with workplace accidents in a standardized way.

In addition, it is the policy of the University to comply with all Workers’ Compensation laws and regulations.

The requirements of this plan apply to all operations and departments at the University.

Administrative Duties

The University of Mary Washington’s Worker’s Compensation Coordinator is responsible for developing, maintaining, and reporting First Records of Injury to Virginia State Department of Risk Management. This function is shared by the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Public Safety.

The departments responsible for the program:

  • Are responsible for the OSHA 300A Log as well as compensatory reports for the employee.
  • Have full authority to make necessary decisions to ensure the success of this plan.
  • Are qualified by appropriate training and experience to commensurate with the complexity of the plan.
  • Administer or oversee the accident reporting and investigation program.
  • Conduct the required investigations and incident evaluations.

All employee accidents are reviewed by a committee of UMW representatives from all trades, skills and professions for adequate recommendations and remediations.

Accident Reporting Procedures

Employees injured on the job are to report the injury to their supervisor as soon as possible after the incident/accident, and when it is safe to do so. Near miss accidents or incidents (when an employee nearly has an accident but is able to avoid it) should be reported as well. All accidents and incidents should be reported for prevention purposes.

The supervisor must immediately notify the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Public Safety when an incident/accident occurs.

If they are not available, a report should be forwarded for their review and the supervisor shall conduct an investigation and interview. The Employer’s Accident Report, VWC Form No.3 is required to be completed by the employee’s supervisor. Injuries involving a student, UMW visitor or contractor needs to be reported to University Police for an Incident Report to be filed and forwarded to the UMW Risk Management Office. All accident reports and police reports involving accidents with or without injuries are reviewed by OEMS.

Any employee witnessing an accident is to call for emergency assistance when needed. In addition, the employee is to immediately report the accident to his or her supervisor and take part in answering questions related to the Accident Report and Accident Investigation.

Accident Investigation Procedures

Thorough investigation of all accidents will lead to identification of accident causes and help:

  • Reduce economic losses from injuries and lost productive time.
  • Determine why accidents occur, where they happen, and any trends that might be developing.
  • Employees develop an awareness of workplace problems and hazards.
  • Identify areas for process improvement to increase safety and productivity.
  • Note areas where training information or methods need to be improved.
  • Suggest a focus for safety program development.

For all accident investigations, OEMS or its designee will perform the following duties:

  • Conduct the accident investigation at the scene of the injury as soon as safely possible to do so.
  • Ask the employee involved in the accident and any witnesses, in separate interviews, to tell in their own words exactly what happened.
  • Repeat the employee’s version of the event back to him/her and allow the employee to make any corrections or additions.
  • After the employee has given his/her description of the event, ask appropriate questions that focus on causes.
  • When finished, remind the employee the investigation was to determine the cause and possible corrective action that can eliminate the cause(s) of the accident.
  • Complete an accident investigation report with the employee and review data with employee for accuracy. This will provide information to put into database format.

The accident investigation report is used to:

  • Track and report injuries on a monthly basis.
  • Group injuries by type, cause, body part affected, time of day, and process involved.
  • Determine if any trends in injury occurrence exist and graph those trends if possible.
  • Identify any equipment, materials, or environmental factors that seem to be commonly involved in injury incidents.
  • Discuss the possible solutions to the problems identified with the safety team and superiors.
  • Proceed with improvements to reduce the likelihood of future injuries.

Injury/Medical Issues

If a workplace accident results in injury or illness requiring hospitalization of three or more employees, or a fatality of one or more employee, the University’s Worker’s Compensation Coordinator will report the incident within eight hours by phone or in person to the nearest VOSH office.

If an injured person is taken to a doctor, a statement from the doctor will be attached to the Accident Report form.


UMW’s Worker’s Compensation Coordinator is responsible for maintaining the following records and documentation:

  • OSHA 300A log of injuries and illnesses
  • Accident investigation reports
  • Employer’s Accident Report

UMW OEMS is responsible for maintaining the following records and documentation:

  • Training records
  • Investigation and Interviews

This plan is a document guiding the action and behaviors of employees, so they need to know about it. To communicate the new Accident Reporting and Investigation Plan, all employees are given a thorough explanation as to why the new plan was prepared and how individuals may be affected by it.

The information and requirements of this written plan are presented to employees during new hire orientation or as the plan is reviewed and modified, but at least annually.

Program Evaluation

The accident reporting and investigation program is evaluated and updated by UMW Worker’s Compensation Coordinators and OEMS annually to determine whether the plan is being followed and if further training may be necessary.

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  • Car Insurance
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How Long Do You Have To Report a Car Accident?

Know how quickly you need to contact your insurer after a crash

  • How Long Do You Have To Report an Accident?

When You Might Not Need to Report an Accident

  • Reporting an Accident vs. Filing a Claim

When You Need to Notify the DMV or Police

Frequently asked questions (faqs).

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After a car accident, you’re often faced with a seemingly daunting set of responsibilities. You have to document the damage to your vehicle, and you may need to file a police report. You also need to notify your insurance company. But when and how to report a collision isn’t always cut and dried. Here’s what you need to know so you can meet your responsibilities after an accident.

Key Takeaways

  • Your insurer or your state’s insurance code may dictate how quickly you need to report an accident.
  • Local and state laws may require you to file an accident report with law enforcement.
  • Always report an accident that caused injuries or significant damage to your insurance provider.
  • You may not need to report a minor fender bender to your insurance carrier if the other driver is insured and accepts responsibility.
  • After an accident, always document damage and injuries, and ask witnesses for their contact information.

How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident?

Following a crash, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Some insurers suggest contacting them from the scene of the collision.

That’s not always possible, especially if the accident causes injuries. However, it’s best to contact your insurer as quickly as is practical, while the details are fresh in your memory. In some cases, insurance providers impose time limits on reporting accidents, so ask your agent or check your policy for details.

Your state’s insurance code may also dictate how quickly you must report an accident. For example, New York is a “no-fault” state, which means motorists must carry personal injury protection (PIP) , a type of coverage that pays your and your passengers’ medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault for an accident. PIP won’t pay to repair your vehicle or another driver’s car. However, if anyone sustains injuries in a collision, New York’s no-fault law requires you to file a PIP claim within 30 days of the accident. If you’re not sure about the rules in your state, research its car insurance regulations or contact your insurance agent to find out.

Minor fender benders happen frequently. If another driver is at fault for a fender bender , accepts responsibility, and gives you their contact and insurance company information, you may not need to notify your insurance company, but you will need to contact the other driver’s insurer to file a claim for damage to your automobile. However, if you are at fault or if the accident caused any injuries, you’ll need to contact your insurer as soon as possible to tell your side of the story.

Keep in mind that not reporting an accident to your insurance company may lead to unexpected consequences. For example, if another driver is at fault for a fender bender and agrees to pay for damages to your car out of pocket, they might not follow through. Also, make sure you understand the reporting requirements mandated by your car loan or lease agreement, if applicable, and the terms and conditions of your auto insurance policy.

Some attorneys advise that the only time you don’t need to contact your insurer is when an accident happens on your property, doesn’t involve another person’s car or other property, and causes little damage and no injuries.

Reporting a Car Accident vs. Filing an Insurance Claim

Reporting an accident to an insurer isn’t the same as filing a claim . Providers encourage you to report all accidents, but you can only file a claim if you have the coverages you need to help pay for repairs or cover medical costs, such as collision insurance or medical payments coverage . Even so, the reporting and claims processes require some of the same elements.

Photos of the Scene and Any Damage

Whenever you’re involved in a traffic accident, document the scene and the vehicles involved. Make note of the exact time and location of the crash, as well as weather conditions and any other relevant information about the scene. Take pictures of all damage to vehicles and other property. You may not need to submit the photos when you report an accident, but they’ll be required if you file a claim .

Contact Info for Other Driver(s) and Witnesses

Exchange information with other drivers, including contact information, insurance company names and policy numbers, makes and models of automobiles, and driver’s license numbers. If bystanders witnessed the accident, ask for their contact information so the police or an insurance claims representative can request their statements. An insurance company may not need this information if you only want to report an accident, but if you file a claim, you’ll need to submit it.

A DMV or Police Report

Some local and state laws dictate when you must file an accident report with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or a police department. If a police officer responds to the scene of an accident and files a report, the insurance company will likely request a copy of it when you file a claim. If you only report an accident, the insurer may or may not request a police report.

A Claim Form

Claim processes vary by provider. Some companies take accident claims online, over the phone, or through a mobile app. In general, filing a claim requires more information than simply reporting an accident. You’ll also need to make sure you have the type of coverage relevant to your claim. For example, to file a claim for damage to your car from an accident, you’ll need collision coverage.

State and local laws dictate when you must report a car accident to a local police department or your state’s department of motor vehicles . For example, California law requires drivers to report crashes to the DMV within 10 days of an accident involving injuries or automobile damage of more than $750. People who don’t comply can face a driver’s license suspension.

In Denver, Colorado, law enforcement only responds to car accidents under certain circumstances:

  • Hit-and-run incidents
  • Crashes that involve injuries or fatalities
  • Collisions that obstruct a street or damage public property
  • Accidents involving drivers who are intoxicated or don’t hold a valid driver’s license
  • Accidents involving city employees

Even if a police officer doesn’t respond to a crash, drivers are required to file an accident report by calling 911 or visiting a local police station.

Oregon law requires drivers to file a report with the DMV within 72 hours of accidents that cause fatalities or injuries, require a vehicle to be towed from the scene, or cause damage to vehicles or other property that exceeds $2,500.

All drivers should know their local and state DMV and police reporting requirements before they get behind the wheel. Even if you’re involved in a minor crash, most major auto insurance companies recommend contacting the police from the scene of the accident. A police report taken by an officer at the scene of a collision will help your insurer investigate any claim you might file.

What happens when you don’t file a report for a car accident?

Some state laws require you to file an accident report with the DMV or police department following a crash. If you don’t comply, you could face consequences such as a suspended driver’s license.

How do you report an accident?

The process for reporting a traffic accident differs based on your location. In some places, you can report a collision by calling 911 or manually filling out an accident report at a police station.

Some states also offer online accident report forms, which you can download and mail to the appropriate government department. A few states provide an online collision reporting system, which you can submit from the convenience of your home.

How do you get an accident report?

The steps to request an accident report vary by state. Depending where you live, accident reports may be issued by state departments of transportation, DMVs, or police agencies. Many states enable you to order an accident report online, usually for a fee.

New York State Department of Financial Services. " Consumer FAQs About No-Fault Insurance ," see "When and where should I file my No-Fault claim?"

California Department of Insurance. " So You've Had an Accident, What's Next? " see "What To Do If There Is an Accident."

Denver Police Department. " Report an Accident ."

Oregon Driver & Motor Vehicle Services. " Accident Reporting and Responsibilities ."

Report a Car Insurance Claim

In the event of an accident, The General ® is prepared to assist you with your car insurance claim and guide you through the process.

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File a new claim or check an existing one.

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Claims Department Information

For existing claims our hours of operation are Monday - Friday: 8am - 5pm (EST-PST)

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Please include your claim number on all correspondence and send via one of the above methods.

If you'd like more information on what to do after an accident or how to report a car accident insurance claim, you can watch our videos below.

Helpful claims videos.

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Car Insurance Accident Claim

You should always file a car accident claim if other drivers were involved, even if the damage appears to be minor or if you don’t have full coverage car insurance. One of the reasons your insurance company is there is to protect you against unreasonable demands and lawsuits from other drivers, which, unfortunately, can sometimes arise when drivers settle outside of their insurance companies.

If no other cars or drivers were involved in your accident – you backed into a tree, for example – then it’s up to you whether or not you should contact your insurance company. If you do contact them, you run the risk of raising the cost of your insurance premium, especially if you’ve been involved in a number of other accidents in recent years.

Woman calls in an accident while young man takes pictures of damage for car insurance claim.

If the damage is minor, and the cost doesn’t meet your deductible, it might be worth it to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket. You know your financial situation and are the best one to determine the right route for you in event of such an accident.

The insurance claims process can be long, and sometimes frustrating, lasting anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. However, it’s a necessary process to make certain of a fair outcome for all parties involved. The length and complexity of the process usually depends upon the severity of the accident. A fender bender is usually resolved quite quickly, while an accident resulting in severe injuries or fatalities will take a lot longer.

Claims Process

The most common first step after a car insurance claim is the assignment of a claims adjustor. They will usually get in touch with you within a few days after the accident. The adjustor will want to get your side of the story, take pictures of the damages to your car, talk to the other drivers involved or any witnesses, and more. Basically, the claims adjustor will be your go-to person throughout the claims processing.

While the car insurance claims process is taking place, your insurance company will typically cover all of your damages and injuries. Once fault is determined, the insurance agencies will negotiate over which company will pay for which specific damages/injuries.

Photo of claims agents with headsets waiting to help you file your car insurance claim.

If another driver was involved, you should always report an accident as soon as it’s safe to do so. As far as what the definitive time frame is, that’s hard to say. Different insurance companies have different windows of time. If you’re unsure, you should read your policy agreement, or talk to your insurance agent.

Most auto insurance agencies have a toll-free 24-hour car insurance claims hotline. You can usually find it printed directly on your policy. If not, simply call your auto insurance company and speak with an agent. They will point you in the right direction to get the car accident insurance claim process started.

An auto accident is a major inconvenience and sometimes more serious, but we work hard for you to make the process as straightforward as possible. We know you don’t need the additional stress of trying to navigate insurance issues on your own. We are there to help you every step of the way during this difficult time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a claim on car insurance.

Your insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. In exchange for paying your premiums, the insurance company agrees to provide you with coverage if an accident occurs.

When an accident happens, you must report it to your insurance company. If your vehicle was damaged or anyone was injured, you would file a claim for car repair (if you bought collision and comprehensive coverage) and for payment of your medical expenses. If you can’t work for a while because of your injuries, your insurance may potentially cover your lost income.

The claim is investigated, and if everything goes smoothly, the claim is paid. There are times when claims are not as smoothly resolved, such as when each driver says the other is at fault and/or the evidence is unclear.

Just because a driver is partly at fault for an accident doesn’t always mean they won’t receive compensation; they’ll just typically receive less than if they were not at fault.

How do car insurance claims work?

While insurance companies handle the claims process in their own ways, the basic claims reporting procedures are similar. The driver should report the accident as soon as possible. Have the following information and documents on hand when filing your car insurance claim:

  • Location, date, and time of the accident
  • Contact information for the other driver and their insurer
  • Make and model number of other driver’s car
  • Copy of the police report
  • Names and badge numbers of responding officers

You’ll hear from an insurance adjuster within a few days. The adjuster conducts an investigation of the accident, including vehicle damage inspection.

If you live in a no-fault state for insurance, your claim is usually paid by your insurance company. In fault states, the at-fault driver’s insurance should pay for the claim.

Car insurance claims can cover medical bills relating to the accident, lost wages, and property damage, depending on your type of coverage purchased. Keep careful records while you’re recovering from your accident or of any repairs made to the vehicle.

How do I file an auto insurance claim?

There are various ways to file an auto insurance claim. You might decide to call the insurance company’s toll-free number to report the claim. Most insurance companies have representatives available 24/7 to take your information. You can also file your claim online at the insurance company’s website.

Filing your car insurance claim should be easy, and perhaps the best way to file an auto insurance claim is via a mobile app. Our award-winning mobile app allows customers to conduct all of their car insurance business, including claim filing. You can use The General Mobile App to submit a new claim and view current claims. You can also send photos directly from the scene of the accident, and make sure to include the details regarding the incident upon sending your photos.

How long does a car insurance claim take to settle?

Every car insurance claim is unique. Some relatively straightforward claims are settled quickly, and you could have your money within a week or so. That is especially true of property claims, such as glass replacement. Your insurer also may require you to go to certain garages for repairs, which can impact how long your car is out of commission.

If anyone was injured in the crash, the claim will take longer to settle. Most insurance companies aim to have claims settled within 30 days.

State laws and insurance company regulations also affect how long it takes to settle car insurance claims. Every state allows a certain amount of time for claim filing. Keep in mind that the insurance company’s deadline may differ from the state’s deadline, so make sure to check your deadlines.

Do you need a police report for a car insurance claim?

You don’t need a police report for all car insurance claims, unless your policy states that all accidents must be reported to the police, but you will need to file one if anyone was injured or if the cars were badly damaged. State laws differ for when a police report is necessary for a minor accident, but a police report can help your car accident insurance claim.

Insurance companies like to see police reports because they provide third-party documentation of what happened at the scene. In many cases, each driver blames the other for the collision. The police report provides information from both drivers and it is typically written right after the accident. The law enforcement officer will also note the weather and road conditions at the time of the crash.

Lack of a police report may delay your claim. Other evidence, such as photos taken at the scene and eyewitness accounts, can be a useful resource to assist with your claim after a minor accident if a police report was not filed.

What happens when car insurance denies a claim?

Not every car insurance claim receives approval. Common reasons for claim denial include:

  • The claim amount is above the coverage limit.
  • The coverage limit has already been met.
  • The policyholder did not buy the necessary coverage.

Without purchase of collision or comprehensive coverage, a car accident insurance claim for car repairs would be denied.

The insurance company can also deny a claim if the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident. The same holds true if the driver lacks a license.

The policy might state that drivers must report all accidents to the police. If a driver doesn’t report the accident, the insurer may deny the claim. If the driver or another occupant of the vehicle alleges they were injured but never sought medical attention after the crash, a denial is likely.

When a claim is rejected, you’ll have to pay any damages to the other driver out of your pocket. You can file a claims denial complaint with your state’s Department of Insurance.

Does filing a claim raise your car insurance rates?

Filing a claim can raise your car insurance rates. It’s good to know a company’s policy on how claims will affect rates before buying insurance, so make sure to ask about the average percentage that rates are raised after a claim.

Maybe you think not reporting the accident and paying to have the car repaired out-of-pocket is a better idea. Each state has their own laws regarding when an accident requires reporting, and your insurance policy probably says you must report all accidents promptly.

There are some situations where it is better to pay for the repairs yourself. Say you hit a fence on your own property and cause minor damage. By paying for the repair, you won’t have to worry about a rise in premiums. However, if you have the same accident in someone else’s driveway and hit their fence, you should report the accident.

The person may report the collision to their insurance company to have their fence replaced, and your insurance company could find out you never reported the incident. Regardless of the situation, you should report accidents to your insurance company in accordance with your policy and your state laws.

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Carfax said her Subaru was in an accident. It wasn’t, and they refused to correct it for months.

Chris O'Hare says she's never owned a car she loved as much as her 2021 Subaru Outback.

Chris O’Hare, a retired Holyoke teacher, never loved a car so much as her 2021 Subaru Outback.

She bought it a year after her husband, David, died, when she was struggling with his absence after 45 years of being together. She says she splurged on it as “a salute to my new life on my own.”

Carfax, the giant vehicle data-collection company, somehow got information about her new car and began sending her “courtesy” reminders of oil changes and other maintenance. It was a marketing ploy, a way for Carfax to connect with potential customers in a seemingly helpful manner.

Carfax says it has billions of accident and maintenance records in its database, which it buys from state motor vehicle agencies, including the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, police departments, body shops, and other sources. The company uses its gargantuan database to generate “vehicle history” reports on millions of cars and trucks.

The company then sells those reports online for $44.99 to consumers and businesses buying and selling used vehicles. Accident reports are vital because it’s axiomatic that an accident compromises a vehicle and lowers its value.


Last summer, O’Hare clicked open a promotional Carfax email and was stunned to see that it listed her beloved Subaru as having been in an accident.

“Well, that’s just wrong, I thought, and figured it would take a few minutes to get it corrected,” O’Hare, 71, told me.

But, no, it wasn’t that simple — not even for a demonstrably erroneous record. Instead, it became an ordeal stretching over six months.

By the time she came to me for help, O’Hare was worn out by months of emails with a Carfax “resolution manager,” who proved ineffective at resolving an obvious mistake. Three times she requested a supervisor but never got one.

And of course she couldn’t call customer service because Carfax, like a growing number of companies, doesn’t accept phone calls.

“I really hope you can help because I don’t know what else I can do,” she wrote to me.

Mind you, this was no trivial matter to O’Hare. In pervasive advertising on TV and elsewhere, Carfax hammers home that an accident lowers the value of a vehicle — and that you had better be aware of it.

“These two cars may look identical,” one video ad says , displaying two SUVs. “But with Carfax you will see how its history affects its value.” The ad shows the value of the vehicle with an accident worth $6,700 less than the “clean” one.

“Stop overpaying,” the ad says. “Shop at Carfax.”

Anyone checking O’Hare’s Subaru would see a phantom accident. O’Hare estimates a loss in value of at least $1,200.

“I don’t want to lose money because Carfax made a mistake,” O’Hare said.

Prodded by O’Hare, Carfax identified the accident as having occurred on Dec. 17, 2022, in North Attleborough. That’s ridiculous, O’Hare thought, because on that date she was 1,500 miles away in her mobile home in Florida. Her Subaru, meanwhile, was safely locked in a garage at her condo in South Hadley.

Carfax told O’Hare that it would try to get a copy of the police report (didn’t it already have it?), but that it would be quicker for O’Hare to furnish it to the company.

“I don’t have the police report because I was not in an accident,” she reminded the resolution manager.

Carfax made a rookie mistake in attributing an accident to Chris O'Hare's Subaru Outback, and then its "resolution manager" repeatedly spurned efforts by O'Hare to fix it.

When O’Hare got and read the report, she felt a sense of relief because it was so obvious Carfax had made a rookie mistake by failing to distinguish between a passenger car license plate and a commercial truck license plate with the same number.

In Massachusetts, the RMV sometimes issues the same plate number to two vehicles: one passenger and one commercial. (The Registry told me there’s approximately 3,200 duplicate passenger and commercial plates.)

The accident in North Attleborough involved a box truck that lost one of its rear wheels, which then hit and damaged another vehicle.

The accident report was properly coded for a commercial vehicle, and a short narrative by police made it plain that the accident did not involve a Subaru passenger vehicle.

But Carfax still refused to remove the accident, even after O’Hare sent the resolution manager copies of her Subaru registration, showing it to be a passenger vehicle, and an insurance claims history, showing she made no claims for accidents.

Instead, Carfax told O’Hare to get the police to “correct” the accident report, which was actually correct to begin with.

O’Hare: “This is ridiculous. You can clearly see in the report that the vehicle involved is NOT my Subaru.”

Carfax: “I understand this can be frustrating. … A police report is an official document. … Carfax does not have the authority to determine if any of it contains any errors.”

O’Hare pointed out there was no error, “just a coincidence” that the registration plates for the commercial vehicle in the accident and her passenger vehicle were the same.

The last time O’Hare heard from the Carfax was Jan. 2, when the resolution manager asked for an insurance document O’Hare had already provided. After that, Carfax stopped replying to her.

O’Hare went to great lengths to provide Carfax with complete and well-organized documentation, which I regularly recommend and applaud.

She also delivered a stern lecture I cannot improve upon: “Carfax has the authority — and more importantly, the responsibility — to ensure that it does not assign a police accident report incorrectly. Knowingly doing so misleads the public, to say nothing of undermining public confidence in a company that purports to give consumers peace of mind.”

She rightly called Carfax’s conduct “malicious and intentional.”

I contacted Carfax, and the company quickly owned up to its mistake and corrected its records, though it never apologized to O’Hare in the statement released to me.

It takes work to clean up a mess like this. If it happens to you, I recommend sending a succinct, strictly factual chronology of events (based on emails) to your insurer, auto dealership, Registry of Motor Vehicles, and police department, asking them to notify Carfax of its error. And make sure Carfax knows of your efforts by copying it on all of your emails.

You should also complain on social media. And file complaints with the attorney general’s office , the Federal Trade Commission , and the Better Business Bureau .

At some point, it should dawn on the likes of Carfax that in order to stop the public relations bleeding, it must do the right thing.

Got a problem? Send your consumer issue to [email protected] . Follow him @spmurphyboston .

Angela Chao, CEO of Foremost Group, dies on private property in Blanco County, Texas

JOHNSON CITY — Blanco County authorities are investigating the death of Angela Chao , CEO of shipping company Foremost Group, who died Sunday after authorities were called to perform a water rescue on a private ranch, the sheriff's office said in a statement Thursday.

"EMS attempted emergency measures on her but she succumbed from being under the water," the brief statement said.

Chao is believed to have possibly drowned after her car entered a body of water on the property, a law enforcement source told the American-Statesman although the cause of her death has not been determined.

The statement does not refer to a car accident but said "our preliminary investigation has determined this to be an unfortunate accident. The investigation is ongoing."

The statement also does not provide the address of the property where the incident happened. The Statesman has requested that information under the Texas Public Information Act, which requires the release of the address of an incident.

A reporter who visited the Blanco County sheriff's office to request an interview was turned away.

Chao, who lived in Austin, was the youngest daughter of Foremost Group's founder and honorary chairman, Dr. James S.C. Chao, the sister of former U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and the sister-in-law of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Chao was married to James Breyer, an American venture capitalist and founder and CEO of Breyer Capital , which is headquartered in Austin. Breyer is also a minority owner of the Boston Celtics, according to Breyer Capital's website .

Angela Chao's legacy

Foremost Group issued a statement regarding the death of Chao, emphasizing her people-first mentality and how she placed special importance on the care and well-being of the crews on and off their ships: "Angela Chao was a formidable executive and shipping industry leader, as well as a proud and loving daughter, sister, aunt, wife and mother. She was also a precocious youngster, learning about the shipping industry at an early age as she lovingly followed her father around during 'Take Your Daughter to Work' days on his ships."

According to her website , Chao was a Harvard graduate, earning her undergraduate degree and an MBA there. She is also a published author on topics of economics, international trade and finance, and education.

Chao was one of six children. She served as Foremost Group’s CEO since 2018 and was also involved in a number of organizations, holding board positions on the American Bureau of Shipping Council, Harvard Business School’s Board of Dean’s Advisors and the Metropolitan Opera, among others.

She was a founding advisory council co-chair of the nonprofit The Asian American Foundation. 

"Angela’s name in Chinese sounds like the characters for peace and prosperity. She certainly gave more than her share of both to this world,” Chao's father said in a statement to NBC News. "Her absence leaves a void not only in our hearts, but in the Asian-American community."

USA TODAY reporter Julia Gomez contributed to this report.


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