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What Should I Do After a Fender Bender?

Inattentive drivers, distractions inside cars, and poorly designed parking lots can create conditions ripe for minor accidents. Small accidents happen all the time, and knowing what to do if one happens to you can make the experience less stressful. Here’s what to do in a fender bender.

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What Is a ‘Fender Bender’?

A “fender bender” is the term for a minor car accident. A fender covers a car’s wheel, so when a fender bender is bent, it’s unsightly, but the vehicle remains drivable. The phrase rhymes, making it easy to remember. Essentially, it’s an accident in which the vehicles involved have light damage, with no serious injuries. These are the most common types of vehicle accidents and typically occur at low speeds.

While these accidents usually do not result in significant structural damage or injuries, it’s better not to assume anything. If you are in a minor vehicle accident, stay calm and focused, as it is essential to gather information.

What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

Immediately following an accident, stop and move only if you can do so safely to get out of traffic. Call 911 if anyone is injured, as it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Once you’ve established no one has any injuries and you are in a safe place, exchange information with the other driver(s) involved. Gather the following information:

  • The other driver’s insurance company
  • Policy number
  • Contact information
  • Driver’s license number
  • License plate number
  • Witness names and contact information, if applicable

You may need to contact the police to report the accident, as some states require reports for accidents involving injuries or property damage. Safely take pictures of the damage, lines of sight, and road conditions with your smartphone.

Claims departments in insurance companies suggest two things:

  1. Get an estimate before making the claim to be sure the damage is greater than the deductible.
  2. Only submit a claim to the at-fault party. If there has been a police report, the at-fault party is typically decided by the officer and shown in the police report.

An accident and a subsequent claim can potentially cause carriers to increase your rates or non-renew, and it can also affect your eligibility for a not-at-fault claim.

What If the Other Driver Refuses to Exchange Information?

Your safety is the most important thing in any post-accident situation. Use your judgment and avoid confrontation with an angry driver. If possible, get the license plate, vehicle description, and other details about the driver. Call the police in this case, as having a police report may help track the other driver or file a claim later.

Should I Contact My Insurance Company After an Accident?

In most cases, the answer is yes. Contacting your insurance company is a good idea for a few reasons:

  1. The other driver may change their mind and file a claim later.
  2. Your insurance company will review the accident details and may ask important questions.
  3. Repair costs can be expensive, even for minor fender benders.

Under specific conditions, you may not need to contact your insurance company if:

  • You are the only one in the car
  • You are not hurt
  • The accident did not involve another vehicle
  • The damage is minor and at or below your deductible limit

Repair costs for even minor fender benders can be expensive. Safety features might be damaged and need replacement to function correctly. What looks like a minor dent to you could cost thousands to repair. So, contacting your insurance company—even after a minor fender bender—is a good idea.

How Can I Get My Car Fixed After an Accident?

Your insurance company will guide you on how to proceed with repairs when you file your claim. Some insurers send an adjuster to assess the damage, while others allow you to choose a repair shop. Remember, you are responsible for repair costs up to your deductible.

Ultimately, the choice is yours as to where you get your vehicle fixed. It’s important to remember a couple of things. First, you are responsible for the first part of the repair costs up to your deductible. If your deductible is $750, that means that amount is up to you.

Sometimes this means that your insurer will get an estimate of the repair costs and then will cut you a check for that amount minus your deductible (so, if the cost to repair your car is $2,750, you receive a check for $2,000). Other times, the shop may charge you $750 and then directly bill your insurance company for the balance—it all depends on the process that has been agreed to between the repair shop and your carrier.

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Can I Get an Auto Insurance Quote After a Fender Bender?

A fender bender might raise insurance rates, affecting the quotes you receive from insurers. However, it is still possible to get auto insurance quotes after a minor accident. If you need help finding quotes after a fender bender, contact Rate Insurance for assistance. Our experts will work to find you quotes for car insurance that meets your needs and your budget.


*Savings, if any, vary based on the consumer’s profile and other factors. Contact your insurance agent for more information. Restrictions apply.

All information provided in this publication is for informational and educational purposes only, and in no way is any of the content contained herein to be construed as financial, investment, or legal advice or instruction. Rate Insurance does not guarantee the quality, accuracy, completeness, or timelines of the information in this publication. While efforts are made to verify the information provided, the information should not be assumed to be error free. Some information in the publication may have been provided by third parties and has not necessarily been verified by Rate Insurance. Rate Insurance, its affiliates and subsidiaries do not assume any liability for the information contained herein, be it direct, indirect, consequential, special, or exemplary, or other damages whatsoever and howsoever caused, arising out of or in connection with the use of this publication or in reliance on the information, including any personal or pecuniary loss, whether the action is in contract, tort (including negligence) or other tortious action.