What to Do in Minor Car Accidents
Minor auto accidents aren’t catastrophic. But they can still be stressful and are almost always inconvenient.
13:17 23 November 2021
By definition, minor auto accidents aren’t catastrophic. But they can still be stressful and are almost always inconvenient. Also, drivers don’t always know how to handle minor accidents. What are you supposed to do at the scene? Do you have to report small car accidents, like if your car door hit another car? If you do, what do you tell your insurance provider?
Whether something unexpectedly shows up in your blindspot or you mess up because you were in a hurry, we’ll give you some helpful information on what to do after being involved in a minor auto accident.
What is considered a minor car accident?
Car accidents are an unfortunate reality of life. Thankfully, most car accidents are considered minor.
A car accident is considered minor when no one is injured and the damage is not substantial. Sometimes they’re referred to as “fender benders.” Even though small auto accidents don’t involve injuries or major damage, most insurance providers still require policyholders to notify them about any collision, even minor ones.
What causes minor car accidents?
Studies have looked at the reasons for car accidents. While there are many causes, car accidents are generally categorized into two main categories: external influences and driver-related influences.
Examples of external influences are factors that a motorist has little or no control over. Think of bad weather, night driving, or vehicle defects.
Driver-related influences relate to the actions of the driver. They include intoxicated driving, speeding, tailgating, or any other mistake or negligent conduct of the driver.
It should not come as a surprise that driver-related factors are the main causes of car accidents. The number one driver-related cause of accidents is the distracted driver.
Do minor car accidents go on your driving record?
Even though fender benders aren’t major accidents, if anyone was injured or vehicle damage exceeds the statutory threshold for reporting the accident, they will go on your driving record.
Motorists often ask how long fender benders stay on your driving record. Again, the long answer depends on the state you live in, but the short answer is that minor car accidents are likely to remain in the Department of Motor Vehicles’ record system for at least three years.
Of course, some accidents are so minor — like a tapped bumper, a small scratch, or a tiny dent — they’re not required by statute to be reported to the DMV. In those cases, motorists can choose to resolve the incident between themselves without calling the police or contacting the DMV.
If an accident is so minor that it doesn’t legally warrant being reported to the DMV, it won’t be a part of your official driving record. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that most insurance contracts require policyholders to notify their provider about any collision regardless of whether they intend to make a claim or are legally required to report it to the DMV.
Will my insurance rates go up after a car accident?
The cheapest insurance rates are offered to low-risk drivers. Low-risk drivers are motorists who insurance companies believe are less likely to get in accidents or file insurance claims.
That makes sense because the less likely you are to get in an accident, the less likely you are to cost the insurance company money. But does one accident automatically make you a high-risk driver? Not necessarily.
Insurance Rates Not Affected by First-Time No-Fault Accidents
If you were in a car accident but it wasn’t your fault, no one was injured, and you haven’t had any other recent accidents, then your car insurance premiums may not go up at all. This is especially true if your insurance company has an accident forgiveness program.
An accident forgiveness program is when the provider agrees not to raise insurance premiums for eligible motorists on their first accident (or first accident in recent years). There are usually eligibility requirements and conditions, like the motorist agreeing to enroll in a certified defensive driving course.
Accident forgiveness programs are a win-win. Your rates don’t increase and the insurance company gets a safer driver through driver education. If you take advantage of your insurer’s accident forgiveness program, then your rates should not be affected by a first-time no-fault accident.
Multiple and At-Fault Accidents Will Likely Increase Rates
If, on the other hand, you were in an auto accident and were found to be at fault, then your insurance premiums are likely to go up depending on the circumstances. If you’ve had several at-fault accidents within a relatively short period of time, say a two-to three-year period, then you can definitely expect your car insurance premiums to increase.
If you have two or more accidents or tickets in a relatively short period of time, then your provider will likely classify you as a high-risk driver. The more accidents you have, the greater risk you are to their provider, even if you are not found to be at fault in every accident. That’s why high-risk drivers tend to pay higher car insurance rates.
Should I talk to my insurance company after a minor accident?
You should call your insurance company after a car accident, even a minor one. Under most policies, any time your car is involved in a collision, even if you believe the other driver was at fault, you are required to report it to your auto insurance company.
Your carrier may consider the failure to report minor accidents to be a violation of your car insurance policy. Being in breach of your policy terms could jeopardize your coverage.
How can I avoid auto accidents?
Many engineers believe that sensor technology in cars can help reduce the incidents of minor auto accidents. More and more companies are developing affordable car sensors that can capture a host of data. In turn, the data can be used to help with highway and street design, construction planning, and traffic relief.
Proponents of sensor technology suggest that allowing in-vehicle GPS devices to connect with cameras that monitor traffic will help with traffic control. They believe such data collection will be crucial in planning for and managing high traffic in the future.
In addition, practice safe driving habits and avoid speeding or reckless driving. This not only helps you avoid accidents but also speeding tickets or warnings.
How to Prevent Auto Accidents
Arguably, the two top safety tips for preventing car accidents are closely related. They are:
#1 – Don’t Be Distracted
Paying attention behind the wheel of a car is probably the most important rule of safe driving. Distracted driving isn’t limited to texting on your smartphone or focusing on passengers in the car. Additional behaviors that lead to distracted driving accidents include eating, grooming or applying makeup in the rearview mirror, trying to find something on the floor or in the glove compartment or back seat, or even playing music at high volumes.
#2 – Avoid Negligent Drivers
Negligent drivers are a menace on roadways. We’ve all seen them speeding on streets and highways, weaving in and out of traffic, failing to yield or use traffic signals.
According to experts, negligent drivers account for most car accidents. That is why it is crucial to stay aware and stay away.
Staying aware means paying attention and not being distracted when you’re driving. Responsible drivers look for signs of irresponsible, drunk, or other dangerous driving.
Staying clear of negligent drivers is as important as being aware of them. The best way to avoid a negligent driver is by getting out of their way, which may mean slowing down, changing lanes or pulling over.
If you witness extremely reckless driving, you may need to call the police. Reckless drivers should be taken off the road right away to prevent them from causing accidents and maintain safety for motorists and passengers on the roadways.