Handling an Out-of-State Car Accident
By: Good2GoPublished: August 12, 2014
Car accidents can happen anywhere at any time. And while your car insurance coverage meets your state’s minimum requirements, what happens if you’re involved in a car accident outside of your state of residence? Are you still covered for injuries and damages? Here’s what you need to know about handling an out-of-state car accident.
How to handle an out-of-state accident
The first thing you need to know is that no matter how far away from home you are, you are most likely covered by your current auto insurance policy. Most car insurance companies offer policies that cover areas within the U.S. as well as territories like Puerto Rico. Some policies may even cover Canadian provinces.
However, double check your policy’s territory limits as an extra precaution, especially if you plan on driving south of the border to Mexico, as other countries may not be covered.
While you may be covered when traveling across state lines, it could benefit you to learn a little bit about the car insurance laws in the states where you will be traveling. This can help you better plan what type of additional coverage you may need since minimum requirements vary by state.
State insurance systems
As an insured driver, you’re probably aware of whether your state uses a “no-fault” insurance system or not. If you’re not sure, below is this list of states that use a “no-fault” system:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
If you live in a state with a no-fault insurance system, this means that if you are injured in an accident, your own insurance will pay for your injuries, not the other driver’s insurance. The Insurance Information Institute defines no-fault auto insurance as “any auto insurance program that allows policyholders to recover financial losses from their own insurance company, regardless of fault.” So if you travel from one no-fault state to another, the claims process will be similar.
States that don’t use a no-fault insurance system allow the injured driver to pursue benefits from the at-fault driver who caused the accident. This can be a lengthy and expensive process for both parties involved.
Reporting an out-of-state accident
Now let’s assume that you have proper insurance coverage, you researched the car insurance laws in the states you plan on visiting, and you end up in a fender bender with another driver across state lines. What do you do?
You should handle the situation the same way as if you were in your home state. That means keeping your cool, remaining at the scene of the accident, checking on other drivers and passengers for injuries, and contacting the proper authorities and emergency services. For more tips on what to do after an accident, check out this article.
The most important thing you should do after an accident – in addition to getting medical treatment if needed – is to contact your insurance company or agent. Call your car insurance company’s claims services department to report your claim and be as accurate as possible in your report. This situation is no different than if you were reporting an accident in your own home state.
If your vehicle needs to be towed or needs serious repairs, check with your insurance company to see if they can help with contacting a towing service or a nearby repair shop. Keep in mind that depending on your type of insurance coverage, your insurance company may not foot the bill for the towing service.
Traveling cross-country should be a fun and exciting experience for any driver. But we can’t predict the future and accidents do happen. By knowing how to handle an out-of-state accident, you will be able to drive anywhere within the U.S. and neighboring territories with added confidence and peace of mind.
Good2Go wants you to drive safe – and affordably. Find out how you can protect yourself with Good2Go.com auto insurance. Get a cheap car insurance quote today.