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ALWAYS report ALL accidents.  Right? I realize in the real world very minor accidents causing damage to your truck or trailer that fall within your deductible do happen.  Should you report these?  Probably not.  But how often do trucks bump into things without causing damage to those things too?  And what if the thing they bump into is a car with passengers?

I’m Okay, Just Fix My Car

You’re in stop & go heavy traffic when a car tries to nudge in front of you. You don’t see him at that crucial moment when you press your accelerator just as he hits his brake. CRUNCH!  The driver is out of his car in a heartbeat screaming at you.  When he calms down you survey the damage and ask if he is okay.  He’s fine he says, but his rear bumper and left rear tail light aren’t.  It can’t be more than $1,000 to repair, or so you guess.  If you report it, you fear your insurance company will probably raise your rates and that’s bound to cost you more than repairing this guy’s car.  This is a business decision.  Fix the car, keep both insurance companies out of this very minor “fender bender.”  Everyone will be happy.

What Could Go Wrong?

After exchanging insurance information with the guy, you ask him to take his still very drivable car to any shop he likes and send you the bill.  The bill is over $10,000 – 10 times more than you expected.  So now you have to contact your insurance company and explain why they are investigating a claim where the damage has already been repaired and your company’s adjuster has nothing to look at but receipts.  Well, at least no one’s hurt.  Hold on, a couple of weeks later you are served suit papers from the driver’s attorney.  He’s been experiencing headaches, severe neck pain, numbness in his fingers, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and depression.  Things have gotten so bad he can no longer work.  Medical bills are piling up.  The suit demands payment for all medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering totaling $1,000,000 – your policy limit.

If You Knew Then What You Know Now…

You start spending a lot of time dealing with this mess.  Lengthy phone calls with your insurance company adjusters and attorneys and depositions you must attend make it difficult to work.  Not knowing how it will all turn out takes its toll.  Stress is your constant companion.  Eventually, the claim settles for less than your policy limit.  The guy you hit had no broken bones and was able to return to work sooner than expected.  Your insurance company offers renewal with an increase just as you thought, but not because the accident happened.  They had additional costs: defending you in the lawsuit that might not have happened if the adjuster could have worked with the claimant right away, being able to inspect the damage to the car before it was repaired, travel costs for attending depositions and more.  Many simple claims escalate because the claimant’s bills aren’t being paid.  That’s when attorneys get involved.  Your insurance company can’t pay bills they don’t know about.

Hired By You

When you buy a commercial auto policy from Eastern Atlantic you are actually hiring us to manage any claims you have.  Would you hire someone to put a new roof on your house and then do the work yourself?  Reporting claims is the first step in letting us do the job you’ve hired us to do.

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