If you've been in a car accident, you usually don't have to talk to the other driver's insurance company, even when the other insurance company is investigating the accident or trying to get a statement from you.
In this article, we'll cover:
There is no state or federal law that requires you to talk to the other driver's car insurance company after a car accident. And if law enforcement investigates the accident, you have a constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment to remain silent, because anything you say can be used against you.
The same is not true, however, when it comes to your own insurance company. Most standard automobile insurance policies require you to report a car accident to your insurer and cooperate with the company when it investigates a claim. This is a matter of contract law. (Learn more about how car insurance coverage works.)
If you do not cooperate with your insurance company after an accident, this can put you in breach of your contractual obligations under your policy, and the insurance company might be entitled to deny you coverage and/or refuse to provide a defense for you if the other driver tries to hold you liable for the accident.
If you think cooperating with your insurance company after an accident might have criminal-liability implications and could jeopardize your Fifth Amendment rights, understand that anything you fail to say can be used against you to deny you your insurance benefits. (Learn more about why car insurance claims are denied.)
If you're in a car accident, expect a call from the other driver's insurance company. It's standard practice. But you're usually under no obligation to talk to the other insurance company, and it's almost never a good idea to go into any details about the crash, or the extent of anyone's car accident injuries or property damage.
When the claims adjuster or other insurance company representative calls you, they may act casual, as though you're just having a friendly chat. They may even suggest that talking to them will lead to a quicker settlement. Don't engage, certainly don't entertain any settlement offers, and don't let the other insurance company record your conversation.
No matter what the other insurance company tells you, remember:
The best thing you can do to protect your interests when the other driver's insurance company calls is to use one of these responses:
And make it clear that you prefer all future calls go to your insurance agent, adjuster, or attorney.
Bottom line: never assume it's in your best interest to speak with the other driver's insurance company.
Insurance companies often use statements to deny claims or coverage after an accident. If you give a statement to the other driver's insurance company—or even to your own insurance company—make sure it's not a recorded statement.
Although it may seem like an innocent request made for the sake of convenience, insurance adjusters prefer recorded statements because they can control the process and the narrative. Adjusters know how to cherry-pick your words or take them out of context to argue that the accident was your fault, or that your injuries are minimal. They may also pressure you to give a statement immediately after an accident, before you know the full extent of your injuries and damages. A recorded statement can also come back to haunt you later on in the insurance claim or lawsuit process, if you're asked for similar details about the accident or your injuries, and your answer is different from the one you gave earlier.
If the insurance company wants a recorded statement, tell them you're happy to provide a written one instead. With written statements, you are not on the spot. You can take your time. You have control of what to include in your written statement, and you can review it with a lawyer before you give it to an insurance company.
If you're in an accident with another driver and you're insured by the same company, this shouldn't change your rights, your concerns, or the process (it also probably won't affect the time it takes to settle your claim, in case you're wondering). All the rules we discussed above still apply.
You and the other driver will likely be assigned different adjusters, and the best approach here is to think of the other driver's adjuster as a representative of a different insurance company: don't speak with them about any details related to the accident or your injuries; don't give a recorded statement; and don't settle without speaking to your own adjuster or your attorney. But do be prepared to cooperate with the adjuster assigned to your claim.
Even though the adjusters work for the same insurance company, they shouldn't be sharing information or records without written permission (from you and/or the other driver). And just because you and the other driver have the same insurance company doesn't mean you should accept a lower settlement or skip any steps in the injury claim process.
With any claim you may have, you first always want to speak with your own insurance company and/or attorney who may advise you that in some cases, it is in your best interest to make a claim directly with the other insurance company instead of your own. This is called a "third-party" claim, and your insurance company can work with the other driver's insurance company on your behalf and help you file your third-party auto insurance claim.
Because you are claiming directly with the other insurance company, your third-party claim will require some level of cooperation from you, since you're asking the insurance company to pay for your vehicle damage, car accident injuries, and other crash-related losses, depending on the nature of your claim. This means you may have to speak with and provide information to the other driver's insurance company. This is one of the only times you should speak with the other driver's insurance company, but that does not mean you should agree to a recorded statement—the advice about giving a written statement applies to third-party claims, too. Get more details on making a third-party car insurance claim after a car accident.
If you've been involved in a car accident, dealing with the other driver's insurance company is usually just one piece of the puzzle. Having a legal professional on your side can make all the difference, especially when your injuries are serious and the insurance company seems to be digging in for a fight. When you're ready to reach out for help, you can use the features on this page to connect with a car accident lawyer in your area.
Learn more about finding the right personal injury lawyer and when to hire a lawyer after an auto accident.