Can I File An Insurance Claim Without a Police Report?
At some point, almost all drivers will have the experience of filing a police report after a car accident and then dealing with insurance companies. But do you need a police report to file an insurance claim? Here, we answer that question and provide the process of best practices after a car accident.
Do I Have to File a Police Report After a Car Accident?
The law in South Carolina requires that you report car accidents under certain circumstances. If either of the following exists in conjunction with a car accident, you must file a police report:
- A person dies as a result of the accident; or
- A person suffers serious bodily injury as a result of the accident.
Since drivers cannot determine by sight all damages or injuries, you should always file a police report after a car accident. Also, it is a crime to flee the scene of a car accident. Therefore, if the other driver flees, you should file a police report.
What Does It Mean to File a Police Report?
When you contact the police after a car accident, a law enforcement officer will come to the scene to investigate the situation and create an accident report.
The police officer's report will state when the accident happened, where it happened, the names and addresses of every driver and witness involved, and relevant information regarding the speed limits, stop signs, etc., near the scene.
You can also go to the police station within 24 hours of an accident to give a statement, which will then be the basis of a less comprehensive police report.
Can I File an Insurance Claim Without a Police Report?
Insurance companies each have regulations and policies. You are not by law required to file a police report to file an insurance claim. However, insurance companies always prefer that you have a police report. If you file a claim and do not have a report, you will face several disadvantages:
- It will take longer for the insurance company to process your claim;
- You will not have the evidence from the trusted source of the police department;
- The insurance company will be more likely to deny your claim; and
- If the other driver fled the accident scene, and you do not file a police report, the insurance company may question the validity of your story.
In all circumstances, the insurance company prefers you have a police report in conjunction with your claim. The report speeds up processing time by providing detailed information your insurance company can use.
What Else Should I Know About Filing an Insurance Claim After an Accident?
A successful insurance claim starts with action before and at the time of your accident. There are several things you should do to give yourself the best shot at filing a successful insurance claim.
Be Sure Your Insurance Is up to Date
South Carolina law requires drivers to have insurance policies on their vehicles. At a minimum, drivers must carry:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death per person in an accident;
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death per accident; and
- $25,000 in property damage coverage.
Be sure you always carry the mandated coverage and that you keep your policy active.
Get the License Plate Numbers of All Vehicles Involved in an Accident
Some drivers ask that the police not be called and that the drivers handle the incident without police involvement. Regardless of the reasons for the requests, do not agree. Also, make sure to obtain the license plate numbers of all vehicles in case the driver flees before the police arrive.
Contact the Police at the Time of the Accident
Please don't assume that someone else will call the police and put off calling them. Call at the time of the accident. Follow the procedures and instructions they provide, and let them know you would like a copy of the police report.
Take Action While You Await the Police
While waiting for the police, exchange contact information with the other parties involved in the accident. The information should include names, addresses, and insurance information of all drivers and names of the owners of the vehicles.
Limit your conversation with the other driver to this information only. Never admit responsibility for the accident or even say you are sorry. If you can safely do so, take pictures of the scene of the accident.
Get a Copy of the Police Report
When the police finish, ask for the number of the police report. Also ask how you can get a copy of the police report. Many law enforcement systems are now online, so you may be able to access a copy online soon after the incident. However, in some areas, you may be told to call or visit the police department to obtain a copy.
Contact an Attorney
Get in touch with a car accident lawyer regarding any serious car accident. Initially the attorney can assist you in reporting the accident to your insurance company. Then, the lawyer can handle any legal issues that arise in the case. Depending on your circumstances, they can represent you in filing or defending insurance and legal claims and negotiating settlements.
Understanding the important steps to take following an accident is critical. After seeking necessary medical attention, taking these steps will enable you to file a strong insurance claim.
Will the Insurance Company Approve My Claim If I Have a Police Report?
There is never a guarantee of the outcome of an insurance claim. Companies each have their process for evaluating incidents and determining the validity of claims. The lack of a police report will put you at a disadvantage. However, that alone does not mean that the insurance company should deny your claim. Your lawyer can assist you if your valid claim is denied.
Car accidents, injuries, and the involvement of police and insurance can be burdensome. Taking the initiative to protect yourself with insurance, getting a police report after an accident, and having legal representation will make the process smoother.
Peace Law Firm: Offering Highly Competent, Caring Representation
After graduating from the University of South Carolina Law School, John Robert Peace founded the Peace Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina, in 2002. Peace is licensed to practice law in South Carolina and North Carolina.
The Peace Law Firm believes in stepping up for the injured and mistreated. When you hire the Peace Law Firm, you will receive personal attention and superb legal representation. Contact the Peace Law Firm today to schedule a free, confidential consultation regarding your car accident claim.