What to do after a car accident that's not your fault | finder.com

Not at fault car insurance

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Hit by another driver? Here’s how their insurer pays for repairs to your car.

Who caused the accident is probably the single most loaded topic in car insurance. Car accidents result in expenses that must be paid, sometimes running into millions of dollars, and whoever is responsible normally needs to pick up the bill. If you’re involved in a car accident that you din’t cause and your car is damaged or written off, you have several options for getting a payout from a not-at-fault car insurance claim.

When would I be not at fault for a car accident?

In the field of car insurance, liability is considered exclusively in relation to car accidents. There are plenty of other situations where your car can be damaged through no fault of your own, ranging from vandalism to fire or hail. This is usually covered by comprehensive car insurance, but you may have to pay a deductible.

When two or more cars are involved, the percentage of liability is often shared between the parties. However, there are some situations in which only one driver is likely to be considered completely at fault, unless unless there was any action you could have taken to prevent the accident, such as swerving or applying the brakes.

  • Admitting liability at the scene. In the aftermath of any accident, if Driver A says something like “I didn’t see you” or even apologizes to Driver B in the presence of witnesses, courts frequently consider this to be an admission of liability and Driver A will automatically be found at fault.
  • Intoxication. Fault will typically be assigned to a driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if the other driver is not intoxicated in any way.
  • Getting rear-ended by another driver. If someone runs into the back of your car, they will almost always be considered at fault.
  • Failing to obey a yield or stop sign. If it can be proven that the other driver failed to give right of way to you and you were driving legally, they will usually be found at fault.
  • Running a red light. If another driver collides with you as a result of failing to obey a traffic signal, they will be found at fault in most cases.

Should I make a claim after a not-at-fault accident?

If you’re debating making a claim, the most relevant factor is whether you can get the other driver to pay for the damage.

  • If the other driver can be found at fault: approach the other driver to cover damages through their insurance.
  • If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured: it might make sense to claim on your own insurance if you can’t pay for damages out of pocket.
  • If the damage to your car is less than your deductible or the other driver can’t pay: it’s usually not worth making a claim.

Do I make the claim through my insurer or the insurer of the at-fault driver?

If you have comprehensive insurance yourself, the only situations when you can approach the other driver’s insurer directly is if the other driver has died or cannot be located. Under virtually all other circumstances, your initial point of contact needs to be the driver who is at fault.

You have the option of assigning a lawyer to act on your behalf, and if the other driver decides to claim on their insurance, the insurance company will most likely contact you to request information and possibly access to your car so its representatives can make an independent assessment of the damage.

Does my level of insurance impact what I can claim?

Comprehensive insurance usually covers you for all types of damage to your vehicle, regardless of whether or not you’re at fault. If your insurer agrees that the accident was completely the other driver’s fault, you may be entitled to claim under a third party policy.

Many insurers stipulate that the other driver must not have insurance that can cover the damage to your vehicle for you to make this kind of claim, and the maximum benefit you will receive is usually $5,000. You will usually be expected to provide the other driver’s name, address and registration number.

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What info do I need to make a claim?

  • Record the other driver’s details. Your insurer will need their name, address and phone number, as well as the registration number of the car they were driving.
  • Make notes at the scene. Write a brief summary of what took place as soon as possible after the accident. Accounts that are recorded immediately after an incident are called “contemporaneous evidence” and they hold a lot of weight in court.
  • Ask witnesses for their contact details. If possible, ask any witnesses present to also jot down their description of what happened at the time of the accident.
  • Take photos of the scene. Pay particular attention to not only the damage your vehicle sustained, but the final resting positions of all the cars involved, any skid marks and damage to surrounding objects such as traffic lights. Add GPS tags to your photos if you have the option.
  • Submit any footage of the event. If you have a dash cam recording of the accident, this will also be very valuable for your insurer.

Will a claim affect my premium or my no claims discount?

In most cases, if your insurer agrees that the accident was caused exclusively by the other driver, you will not be penalized even if you make a claim. Check the specific conditions listed on your policy for circumstances when your no-claim discount will be affected.

Compare car insurance providers with no claim discounts

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Available states
Allstate
Included free
Yes, cars under 2 years old
All 50 states
Enjoy having your own dedicated agent to help you get the best discounts and coverage.
Esurance
Optional
Yes, cars under 1 year old & 15,000 miles
All states except AK, DE, HI, MT, NH, VT, WY
Esurance offers a modern online and mobile experience that helps you take your insurance on the go. Available in 42 states.
Liberty Mutual
Optional
Yes, cars under 1 year old & 15,000 miles
All 50 states
Car insurance through Liberty Mutual will give coverage options for almost any situation.
USAA
Optional
No
All 50 states
USAA offers affordable car insurance with highly rated customer service to millions of military members and their families. Only available to military members, veterans and affiliated military members.
Progressive
Included free
Yes, cars under 3 year old & 15,000 miles
Progressive covers anything on wheels! Progressive offers coverage for cars, trucks, motorcycles and snowmobiles. Even Segways are covered.
Nationwide
Included free
Yes, cars under 2 years old
Nationwide is among the nation’s top ten car insurance providers, offering the full range of service and a promise to be “on your side” with stellar service.
Geico
Optional
Yes
As the nation’s second largest auto insurance company, Geico streamlines the process of purchasing car insurance.
The Hartford
Optional
Yes, cars under 1 year old & 15,000 miles
From first accident forgiveness to 12-month rate protection, you can get a policy tailor-made for you with The Hartford auto insurance. You can also find safe driver discounts and loyalty perks.

Compare up to 4 providers

Will my car be repaired or written off?

It is up to your insurer to choose when your vehicle can be written off, or whether your car will be repaired or declared a total loss. If there is any question about whether or not your car can be repaired well enough to be safe to drive afterwards, you have the right to obtain an independent assessment.

A statutory write-off means that your car will never be safe to drive again, no matter how much repair work goes into it. A repairable write-off means that the cost of repairs exceeds the sum insured, and normally your insurer will keep the vehicle and pay you its agreed or market value.

Bottom line

Making a claim after a car accident is almost the same whether you’re at fault or not. If you’re found to be not at fault for a car accident, you’ll typically receive your payout from a write-off or repairs from the other driver’s insurance. Follow the best process to get your claim handled smoothly, including documenting everything at the scene of the car accident and avoiding implying guilt, even with a simple “Sorry” to the other driver.

After successfully completing your claim, you should be back on the road in no time. Consider making any changes you might need to your comprehensive and uninsured coverage, and compare all your options to find the best car insurance coverage for you.

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Frequently asked questions about no-fault insurance

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14 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    KarenSeptember 17, 2018

    I can’t get car insurance I was in 2 accidents no fault of mine. I’m the victim I’m the victim need car insurance. No one will cover me

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaSeptember 19, 2018Staff

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      Generally, if it is not your fault, then you should be able to claim against the car insurance of the other party. You may want to discuss this with them.

      You mentioned no one will cover you. What you can do is identify the main reason why you are getting rejected for an insurance. From there, you can then fix the problem so you can get an insurance.

      Finally, if you are ready to compare your options, you may check our comparison table above. Click on the “Go to site” green button of your chosen insurer. You can also speak to one of these insurers to know how you can be eligible for their car insurance.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  2. Default Gravatar
    BrittanySeptember 12, 2018

    What happens if someone hits your car and was deemed at fault and you didn’t have insurance which LEDs to getting a ticket? What do you do next?

    • finder Customer Care
      johnbasanesSeptember 13, 2018Staff

      Hi Brittany,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      If you are not at fault for the incident, having no insurance won’t matter insofar as the liability is concerned. But the police may give you a citation because of no insurance. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  3. Default Gravatar
    SinieMay 14, 2018

    My car was hit from behind the other party did admit it was his fault no damage was done to my car but his car had minor damage I took his license plate down we didn’t exchange information this is my first accident I don’t know what I should do any advice?

    • Default Gravatar
      ArnoldMay 14, 2018

      Hi Sinie,

      Thanks for your inquiry

      It is important to exchange information with the persons involved in the accident. Since you already have the plate number, it would be best to contact your insurer and discuss the situation with them. They will guide you through the process of dealing with this. You may also seek the help of a legal adviser to help you contact the other party and make sure only legal actions are taken.

      Hope this information helps

      Cheers,
      Arnold

  4. Default Gravatar
    SoniaMay 8, 2018

    My vehicle was in a minor car accident, clearly not my fault. My photos were not good enough for the other party’s insurance and It was considered a “He say/ She say” and Case closed. I was able to provide more photos from different angles clearly showing it was not my fault. The insurance company Adjuster said she would review the case with the new evidence. It’s been 14 months since the accident and the insurance company will not respond anymore What can I do? Thank you for your time

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaMay 8, 2018Staff

      Hi Sonia,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well for you. :)

      I’m sorry to hear about your predicament. First, it is important to discuss with your insurer your situation. There are different people whom you can talk to. If the company adjuster isn’t doing you any good, then you might try reaching out to other people within the company. It could be the manager, supervisor, or any other people.

      If they are unresponsive, it would be a good idea to visit their office in person if that is possible.

      If this isn’t enough and after doing everything within your power to resolve the issue with the insurer, you might want to seek the help of the State Insurance Commissioner. They have public officials who regulate the insurance industry in your state. They can help you investigate any unfair handling of your case.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  5. Default Gravatar
    MMarch 31, 2018

    My car was hit while it was parked. The other driver admitted it was 100% his fault. My car was new condition with only 8 month of age and 7000 Kms of mileage. The repair estimation is over $9000 dollars. I am worried about the deprived value and also wouldn’t keep a heavily repaired car. How strong is my position to have the insurance company cover the cost to buy the same new car less the market value difference of the two?

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaMarch 31, 2018Staff

      Hi M Kim,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder.

      I understand how frustrating your situation can be.

      Regarding your question, I can’t give you a straightforward answer. It really depends on your chosen insurer. The best way to know is to directly get in touch with them.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  6. Default Gravatar
    kimMarch 27, 2018

    i recently was in accident sever damage to my car unfortunately i was not warranted…no damage to ither car as i got rare ended..what happens now

    • finder Customer Care
      joelmarceloMarch 27, 2018Staff

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      I strongly recommend that you clarify your issue with your insurance provider so you can get a direct advice. If you already did speak to them and you have proof that your insurer is pressuring you to repair a vehicle that would be more safely written off, you can consider opening a case with the Financial Ombudsman Service.

      Cheers,
      Joel

  7. Default Gravatar
    DavidMarch 20, 2018

    My wee van which has huge sentimental value but market value of only a couple of hundred quid was hit by another car and i know for a fact the cost of repair will exceed the value. Can i still make a claim and keep the van? Eg. Not have ot written off. Or do i have to jist let it go and not claim. Which to me is absolute rubbish as the insurancr is more than the value in the first place

    • Default Gravatar
      AndyMarch 20, 2018

      Hi David — thanks for reaching out to the finder team.

      As a rule of thumb here in the US, a vehicle is considered “totaled” by an insurance company if the repair costs exceed 60 or 70% of the vehicle’s current market value. From what you’ve shared here, it seems likely that your van will be written off by your insurance company if you file a claim for the damages.

      In that case, you could still keep the van. You’ll receive a payout for approximately what the vehicle was worth just before the accident, minus your deductible and the salvage or scrap value of the van if you decide to keep it for yourself. Some of that is explained in this article, in the section titled “What happens if my car is written off?” One possible issue to keep in mind here is whether the vehicle can be insured and driven in the future. Once a car has been marked as totaled by an insurer, other insurance providers may not be willing to cover it for you.

      If you have more questions, it may be helpful to discuss this with your insurance agent. Your agent can guide you through your options, including whether or not filing a claim would even be the best course of action here.

      We hope this was helpful and that you have all the information you need!

      Cheers,
      Andy

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