Whenever a person is involved in an auto accident, he or she is required to report the incident to their insurance company. The insured doesn’t need to file a claim for their own damages if they don’t want to or don’t have the coverage, but they do need to let the insurance company know that an incident occurred. Although it may be tempting to try to hide the accident so that the premiums do not increase, the insurance company may still find out about the accident.

How does my auto insurance company learn about a car accident?

After an auto accident occurs, the insured driver is usually not the only person who knows what happened. Numerous other people may contact your insurance company to notify it of the claim:

— If you hit another person and exchange information with them at the scene, they may contact your insurance company directly to file a claim

Even if they did not get your insurance information at the scene, they may have gotten it from a police report, or they may have had a DMV search completed on your license plate by their own insurance company in order to identify you.

— The other person involved in an accident may contact his or her own insurance company.

That company will almost certainly contact your insurance to compare information and set up a claim. This may happen immediately, or it may happen weeks or months after the accident once the initial claim has been settled.

— When police come to the scene of an accident, they will usually file a police report

The information on this report is kept at the DMV, which may notify the insurance company of the accident. This means that any accident with a police report will probably be reported to the insurance company even if neither party calls to start a claim.

— If you have any passengers in your vehicle that sustain injuries as a result of the accident, they may file a claim against your policy

Their insurance company may file it instead on their behalf. Either way, injuries sometimes manifest several days after an accident so you may not realize that anyone was hurt until the claim is filed.

— Whenever you take your vehicle to the body shop, the mechanic may file a claim on your behalf unless you specifically request for them not to

Many body shops get more money from insurance companies than through private repairs, so it’s usually in the shop’s best interests to file a claim.

Any time a claim is filed against your policy or the insurance company is notified of an accident, you will be contacted. At this point, you can provide your side of the story and retell any events that happened in the accident. If you do not respond to your insurance company, however, they may be able to move forward and settle the claim without you.

What happens if I don’t call my car insurance company?

If you are involved in an accident and don’t call your insurance company, several things may happen:

— If you caused damage to another person’s vehicle or property, you are responsible for paying that damage.

Either that party will file a claim against your insurance or they will sue you for damage. In the case of a lawsuit, the cost of the claim may end up being higher than what it would have been if you had gone through the insurance.

— If the other party files a claim against your insurance, you may not be able to provide your side of the story to the adjuster

Whenever an insured is unavailable for contact, the insurance adjuster must often determine liability based on one set of facts, a police report, witness statements or other information. This could lead to liability being decided against you.

— You may need to file a SR-22

In situations where damage occurs and no insurance information is exchanged at the scene, the insured may need to file an SR-22 form with the DMV. The insured’s driver’s license may be suspended until the form is received, and reinstating the license could be a major inconvenience.

Even if it was a single-car accident, it’s still a good idea to contact the insurance company so that they can make a note of the damage done to the vehicle. An accident should not affect the auto insurance rates unless the claim is paid; if the claim is closed without payment, the rates should not increase. This means that as long as you pay for the damage out of pocket, you don’t need to worry about your insurance going up if you file a claim.