Why you ALWAYS need to report an incident (and what happens if you don’t)

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[Note: this article contains general industry-wide guidance on reporting incidents. If you are a Cuvva user and need to report an incident, please follow these steps.]

Car accidents can be a frustrating and stressful experience for drivers, but having car insurance in place means you won’t be in it alone.

However, some drivers mistakenly believe that they do not need to report minor accidents or damage that they think they can fix themselves.

They might be concerned about the impact of the incident on their no claims bonus, or their future premiums, and decide against reporting it.

This is a costly mistake, as failing to report any incident or accident, regardless of how minor it may seem, is not acceptable.

In this blog, we'll discuss why it's essential for car users to report all incidents or accidents - and outline the serious and costly consequences of not doing so 👇

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What counts as an incident?

An incident can be any event that results in damage to your car or someone else's car or property, or injury to yourself or another person. It includes collisions with other cars, pedestrians, cyclists, or fixed objects like walls, lamp posts, and buildings. It also includes incidents where your car is stolen, vandalised, or damaged due to fire or flooding, for example.

If you're involved in an incident where the damage to your vehicle is minor and you think it will cost less than your insurance excess to repair, you may be tempted not to report it to your insurer. This isn’t a good idea. It's important to remember that the other driver or property owner involved in the incident could still file a claim against you - even if they say they won’t. And if your insurance provider has no record of the incident, you could be held liable for the costs.

You need to report any incident - even if you think you can repair the damage yourself
You need to report any incident - even if you think you can repair the damage yourself
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How do you report an incident?

Reporting an incident is a straightforward process. Within 24 hours of the incident, you should contact your insurance provider (or underwriter, depending on your provider) and inform them of what happened. You'll need to provide details such as the date, time, and location of the incident, as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses or other people involved.

Your insurance provider will then guide you through the next steps, which may include providing a more detailed account of the incident, providing photographic evidence, or arranging for repairs to your vehicle. If the damage to your vehicle is minor, your insurer can help you obtain a repair estimate from a reputable garage, which they have access to. They may also advise you to take photographs of the damage and the surrounding area.

[Need to report an incident to Cuvva? Follow these steps.]

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Why do you need to report an incident?

Reporting an incident to your car insurance provider is a legal requirement, but it's also essential for protecting yourself from potential financial and legal consequences. If you're involved in an incident and fail to report it to your insurer, you risk having your insurance policy invalidated. This means that you may have to pay for any damages or injuries out of your own pocket, which can be very costly.

In addition, if you're involved in an incident that results in injury or damage to someone else's property, you could be held liable and face legal action.

What happens if you don't report an incident?

Failing to report an incident to your car insurance provider could have serious consequences. If your insurance policy is invalidated due to your failure to report an incident, you may be responsible for the costs of any damages or injuries resulting from the incident.

You may also face legal action due to breaching the terms of your policy, which states you must report all incidents. Failing to cooperate in an investigation could result in even more serious legal consequences, too.

Additionally, if you're involved in an incident with another driver who decides to report the incident to their insurance provider, their insurer may contact your insurer to request information.

It would also make it much harder for your own insurance company to figure out what happened, meaning you are more likely to be responsible for the costs.

It’s also important to realise that different insurers talk to each other, and there is also a database of claims and reports. This means lying just isn’t an option.

Don’t get talked into repairing a car after an incident without reporting it to your insurer
Don’t get talked into repairing a car after an incident without reporting it to your insurer


What if I was not at fault in the incident? Do I still need to report it?

Yes, you should still report the incident to your insurance provider even if you were not at fault. Your insurer will investigate the incident and determine who was at fault, and they will communicate with the other party's insurer to arrange for repairs or compensation. Not reporting the incident could invalidate your policy and leave you liable for any damages or injuries.

Will my insurance premium increase if I report an incident?

If you were at fault in the incident, it's likely that your insurance premium will increase when you renew your policy. However, if you were not at fault, your insurer will work hard to defend and prove this, which won’t usually impact your premium. However, your premium could temporarily increase as a result of the no fault claim if your policy renews whilst the claim is ongoing. It's important to remember that failing to report an incident could result in your policy being invalidated, which could affect your ability to obtain insurance in the future.

What if I hit an animal with my car? Do I need to report it to my insurance provider?

Yes, you should report any incident where your vehicle is damaged, even if it's caused by hitting an animal. While some insurance policies may not cover animal collisions, it's still important to inform your insurer of the incident so that they can assess the damage and advise you on the next steps. For example, often there can be damage beyond what’s cosmetically visible - it’s safest to have the car properly checked over.

Can I settle the damages with the third party without involving my insurance provider?

If the other party decides to file a claim against you after the fact, and you did not inform your insurer of the incident, your policy could be invalidated, and you could be held liable for the costs. It's always best to report any incidents to your insurer as soon as possible.

Settling in cash is risky because there is no formal contract and you have no legal protection. Reporting an incident means your insurer will ensure they work in your best interest and protect you against further action.

What happens if you hit a parked car and can’t find the owner?

If you hit a parked car with nobody around, it's still considered an incident, and you're legally required to report it. With the rise of CCTV, dash cams, black boxes and mobile phone cameras, it’s increasingly likely the incident will have been captured - even if there were no physical witnesses. As well as reporting it, you should leave a note with your contact details and a brief explanation of what happened for the owner of the parked car.

And don’t forget, it is an offence under Section 170 of The Road Traffic Act 1988 to fail to stop at the scene of an accident. There is also a further obligation to report an accident within 24 hours, even if your details haven’t been requested or if there was nobody at the scene.

What if the third party says they know someone who can fix the damage without insurance?

If the third party involved in the incident suggests that they know someone who can fix the car (or cars) cheaply without getting insurance involved, it's important to resist this offer. While it may seem like a cost-effective option, it could leave you in more bother down the line. You don’t know the extent of your car’s damages - there may be significant underlying issues, even if the superficial damage looks minimal. You also might not be covered if the repaired parts fail in future, either. There’s nothing to stop the third party reporting the incident later, too.

Updated on 3rd April 2023