You probably don’t need a police report to file an insurance claim in either Oregon or Washington. Still, it’s important to chat with your insurance agent to ensure you’re adhering to insurance company guidelines. Many companies — State Farm, for example — encourage the insured to call the police for even minor collisions since a police accident report “can be invaluable to the claim process and help establish who’s at fault.”
As far as the law is concerned, however, when it comes to filing an accident report, it’s not necessary to have a police report, as well.
But before we even get into the subject of filing insurance claims with and without police reports, the first thing we should ask is: You do have liability insurance, right?
Requirements and Penalties
We ask because there are penalties for operating a motor vehicle without it. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), for example, spells it out clear as day: “If you did not have liability insurance at the time of the accident, we will suspend your license for one year.”
The state of Oregon’s Traffic Accident and Insurance Report states that “Only drivers involved in an accident resulting in any of the following must file an Accident & Insurance Report: Damage to your vehicle is over $2500; Injury (No matter how minor); Death; Damage to any one person’s property over $2500; Any vehicle has damage over $2500 and any vehicle is towed from the scene as a result of damages.”
In Oregon, you have 72 hours to file a report after a car accident. Failing to report the accident could result in the suspension of your driving privileges. Furthermore, “if the police department files a police report, you are still required to file your own Accident and Insurance Report with DMV.”
In the state of Washington, there’s a little wrinkle.
“If a law enforcement officer investigates the collision, you don’t need to complete a collision report,” the state says. “The investigating officer will file one.”
However, they continue, “If no law enforcement officer investigates the collision, each driver involved in the collision must submit a report within 4 days of the collision.”
Collision reports are required in cases where there’s property damage “to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more.”
After A Collision
There’s so much to think about in the aftermath of a collision that has damaged your vehicle or rendered it inoperable. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, wondering if you have liability insurance shouldn’t be one of the things you have to worry about. You absolutely must have liability insurance!
If the accident happened on a busy stretch of highway, it may seem like the most sensible thing to do is get moving again. With all the noise, honking horns, and vehicle exhaust, it’s not at all unusual to lose track of your responsibilities as a driver.
ODOT says to “move your vehicle over to the shoulder if it’s safe to do so” and if you’re not injured.
“This helps keep traffic moving,” ODOT says. “You will also avoid getting a ticket for failure to remove your vehicle.”
As if an auto accident weren’t stressful enough.
Hopefully, nobody was hurt in the accident. Vehicles can be repaired or replaced. The most important thing is your safety and taking care of a personal injury. So do be careful when moving your vehicle out of the travel lanes.
If you have a traffic accident, ODOT requires drivers to:
- Stop at once.
- Render aid to injured people at the accident scene. (“Remember,” says ODOT, “injured people should never be moved carelessly. In many cases, they should not be moved at all except by emergency staff or someone trained in first aid. If someone is killed or unconscious, the driver must remain at the scene until a police officer arrives. If you don’t, you are guilty of ‘hit and run.’”
- Begin exchanging information — especially insurance information — with the parties involved, including the responding officer, if any.
OK, so what about the police? Except in the cases mentioned above, you don’t need to have a police report in order to file an accident report or to file a car insurance claim.
Check with your specific auto insurance company to find out about their requirements on how to file a claim.
After that, it’s time to choose a body shop.