You’ve just stopped for a red light on the way home from yoga class, when bump! Your car lurches–someone just rolled into you.
The other driver feels terrible — they looked down at their phone and didn’t see the light change. Your bumper has another scratch on it, but it’s an old car, so you don’t really care. Nobody’s hurt, so you wonder “Why should I file a police report after an accident this minor?”
When an accident is major, or there are injuries, the answer is obvious: you call the police and file a report. But in a minor accident, it can be harder to decide “should I file a police report or not?”
The short answer is yes, it’s a good idea to file a police report after an accident. But the reason why is more complicated — so to get the answers, we went to the experts, our claims team. Here’s what they said.
Why file a police report after an accident?
According to our expert claims team, it’s a good idea to file a police report after an accident for documentation purposes: it gives us the information we need to investigate your claim. And, the information it contains will help us investigate the accident, support you and help determine who’s responsible.
Without a police report, things can be tricky. The quality of information that can be gathered by the police at the scene of an accident is hard to get after everyone has left. And, if the other driver makes a statement at the scene, and it’s recorded in the police report, it will be difficult for them to change their story down the road, especially since the police report carries the added credibility of an impartial third party.
Occasionally, the person you’re in the accident with won’t want to file a report. It is important to remember that calling the police and filing a report is not a joint decision: you have the right to call and file one whether or not the other party wants to. In this situation, we recommend that you excuse yourself and call the police on your own. The fact that they don’t want to file a report should raise a red flag, and give you more reason to call yourself.
Key tip #1: if you think they may leave the scene before the police show up, write down or snap a picture of their license plate number, vehicle make and model.
In the unlikely case that the other person is hostile, avoid arguments and further discussions about the accident. Just turn your hazard lights on to alert oncoming traffic, and wait in your car, or somewhere safe, until the police arrive.
If anyone is hurt, call 911 and request an ambulance. According to the Rhode Island state police, you should still call them via 911 even if there are no injuries. Once the police arrive, they can help you move your car off the road, and call a tow truck if necessary. Then they will gather the information they need for the police report. You’ll need to supply your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance information. They’ll likely request a statement about what happened in the accident.
Key tip #2: get the reference number from the officer for your police report. That’s your golden ticket for a future claims file.
Now it’s time to call us, and your Claims Specialist will take it from there. At HiRoad we’ll even order and pay for the police report to use in our liability investigation, and we’ll gladly provide you a copy.
The LoDown: why file a police report after an accident?
Filing a police report protects you, makes sure we have the info we need to help you, and will give you peace of mind.