Do I Need a Police Report to File My Insurance Claim?
If you get injured or your property gets damaged in any type of accident in Arizona, it’s a good idea to notify the police. Law enforcement can send paramedics and investigators to the scene of the accident to assist victims and collect information. The police report that gets drawn up will contain important information about the accident that can help an insurance company analyze your claim. A police report is not a requirement for filing a claim, however.
A Police Report Is Not Mandatory for Insurance Coverage
In Arizona, having a police report is not mandatory to file an insurance claim or obtain benefits due under the terms of the policy. No insurance company can require a police report to process a claim. Therefore, if Arizona law does not require you to file a police report for your particular accident, it is up to you whether or not you wish to obtain one. With no official record of the accident, however, your insurance claim can be more complicated.
Why You Should Get a Police Report
Arizona state law (Section 28-661 of the Arizona Revised Statutes) requires all drivers involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in injury to or death of a person to immediately pull over and notify the police. Failing to do so is the crime of a hit-and-run, punishable with fines and jail time.
In other kinds of accidents, such as a dog attack, reporting the incident to the police is your decision. However, it is in your best interest to contact the police after any incident that causes property damage or bodily injuries. The police report can provide important evidence. An insurance company will rely on the police report for vital information, such as:
- Whether the accident took place the way that you say it did.
- The date, time, location and other specifics.
- The identities and contact information of all involved parties.
- A description of any injuries and property damage suffered by victims.
- Statements made by eyewitnesses who saw the accident.
- Official photographs of the scene of the accident.
- A confession of guilt given by any of the involved parties.
- Any citations, tickets, warnings or arrests involved in the accident.
- The police officer’s opinion regarding fault.
The police can gather critical information and evidence for you while you receive medical care and take other steps to recover from an accident. Before you leave the scene, ask for your police report number. Then, after the report has been processed, you can file a request to obtain a copy of your collision report, photographs of the scene, and citations or warnings given from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
What Happens When There Is No Police Report?
In general, the more information and documentation you have regarding your accident, the better for an insurance claim. An insurance company will conduct a comprehensive investigation of your case and the circumstances surrounding your injuries or property damage. Anything that aids the insurance company in accepting your claim is evidence that you should submit – including a police report that documents an accident that was not your fault.
If you don’t have a police report, don’t worry. With no police report, an insurance company will search for information and evidence on its own. This may involve interviews or depositions with witnesses, expert witness testimony, photographs from the scene, in-person vehicle inspections, video surveillance footage, and cell phone records. Essentially, the insurance company will have to recreate what the police would have done when investigating your accident.
Not having a police report can make your insurance claim take longer to process, as the insurance company will most likely need more time for the investigation. If you were not liable for the accident and qualify for insurance coverage, however, the insurance company should still come to the same conclusion. If you run into trouble getting the benefits that you are due without a police report, contact an insurance lawyer for assistance.