Drivers Face High Out-of-Pocket Accident Costs, Even When Not at Fault
San Francisco, CA — October 24, 2018
New Esurance survey results of over 1,000 U.S. drivers reveal that even though two-thirds of respondents were not at fault for their collisions, they still experienced high out-of-pocket expenses for things like rental cars or repairs beyond insurance coverage. And that's in part because they're missing vital steps that could help them avoid these added costs.
Accidents are taking a bigger toll on drivers' time and finances than necessary
Our survey revealed that most drivers spent 6 or more hours dealing with post-accident issues (and 14 percent took time away from work). Here's where all that time is spent:
In addition, four out of five drivers faced at least some out-of-pocket costs following an accident. Twenty-seven percent incurred costs of $1,000 or more. "Repairs vary greatly based on the type of car and built-in tech," says Eric Brandt, Esurance's Chief Claims Officer. "So sharing these details with your insurance company can help you get the coverage you need to avoid out-of-pocket expenses."
Drivers don't realize they're missing important steps, both before and after accidents, that contribute to the hassle and expense
While 85 percent of drivers in the Esurance survey thought they did all the right things after their accidents, most missed critical steps that could have been instrumental in saving time and money. Critical post-accident missteps include:
Not seeking the help of authorities and professionals. Only 42 percent of our respondents talked to the police after their incidents. And, of those who were injured, fewer than half (47 percent) sought medical attention. Especially in more serious accidents, drivers should get checked out by a doctor to ensure any injuries are covered and thereby avoid potentially hefty out-of-pocket costs.
Failing to document accidents properly. More than half (58 percent) of respondents failed to collect contact information and file a police report. And only 44 percent took photos, which can serve as evidence and help establish the facts of an accident. Knowing precisely what happened in an accident can speed up the claim process and help drivers avoid paying for things that weren't their fault.
Saying "sorry" to another driver. One in five drivers apologized, which could insinuate fault and make them liable for damages without proof. In fact, more than one-third of those found at fault in our survey were surprised by or disagreed with the determination. To avoid being wrongfully "on the hook" for the costs of an accident, Esurance recommends stating the facts as you remember them and allowing the police and insurance company to determine fault.
Drivers are also leaving themselves vulnerable to worse accident outcomes with their lack of preparedness by:
Ignoring the risks of driving habits that could place them at some level of fault in an accident. Even if another driver caused the collision, engaging in distracted driving can put drivers at risk for being liable. Despite knowing the risks, one-third of survey respondents text and drive.
Not planning for extreme consequences. Many drivers are vulnerable to being sued if the other driver does not recover all damages, medical bills, or emotional distress through the normal claims process. Yet only 13 percent of drivers surveyed consider this possibility.
Being underinformed about car insurance coverage (or knowingly underinsured). The Esurance study shows that 16 percent of drivers are aware of coverage gaps but choose to take the risk of driving without the proper coverage. "What people may not realize is that some really valuable coverages don't cost much per month," says Eric Madia, Vice President of Auto Product with Esurance. For instance, your insurance might cover a rental while your car is in the shop. So it really pays to research your coverage options.
Survey methodology: Esurance conducted an online survey in September 2018 among 1,147 U.S. vehicle owners who have been in a car accident.
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