Settling a car accident with insurance is relatively straightforward. But what happens when one or both insurance companies are not involved? Although not an ideal situation, settling an auto collision without insurance is possible.
If you'd rather settle without getting your insurance company involved, don't forget to take these five steps after an accident:
- Exchange information with drivers at the scene. Talk to the drivers of any other vehicles involved in the accident, but don't accept a cash settlement or a personal check at the scene. Get their names, phone numbers, addresses, drivers' license numbers, and license plate numbers. Jot down the make and model of the car(s) involved and a detailed description of the damage.
- Obtain a police report (if applicable). Police don't always show up to the scene of a car accident, but if they do, be sure to ask the officer how to get a copy of the police report once it is filed. This may help determine who's at fault for the accident.
- Get a quote from each driver's mechanic for the damages. Obtain two or three estimates for the repair of your vehicle and provide the other driver(s) with these estimates.
- Document all communications and mailings. Keep a paper trail of all conversations with the other driver(s) and send all information via return receipt service, which will allow you to prove the documents were received.
- Draft a legally binding settlement agreement. Draft and sign a notarized statement that releases the at-fault party from further liability. To make it legally binding, be sure to include the payment amount, the terms of the payment (lump sum or in installments), and the full names and signatures of the parties. If you receive a check -- certified or otherwise -- make sure the funds clear.
Settling a car accident without insurance can take some time, so make sure to hang on to the police report, mechanic estimates, and all other documents related to the collision. If the agreement falls apart and the disagreement winds up in court, you'll want to consult a car accident attorney to figure out your next move.