Auto Accident - File a claim?

tl/dr - Accident, not at fault, better to file a claim or incident report?

This weekend I was driving in stop and go traffic. I stopped in time, guy behind me didn’t, hit me with such force that our car hit the guy in front of us. (Driver of the car behind me said he sneezed - I’m guessing that means his phone had a lot of dust built up.) Fortunately no BI, aside from my father’s chronic back issues acting up and possibly some whiplash from the other people involved (these things often take up to a few days to act up).

Car was towed into a lot. The guys who work there think that the insurance company will want to make it a total loss, since there is extensive body damage but it appears that the interior is intact so they will make good money from the salvage.

This all happened in a no-fault state.

At this point we have the following options:

  1. File a claim with the insurance company, pay the $2000 collision deductible and hopefully get it back as long as the subrogation process works the way it should. (No guarantees, even with the evidence stacked heavily on our favor.)

  2. Send photos to the insurance company and file an incident-only report. They will deal with the other driver’s insurer and hopefully get a favorable settlement.

The guys who towed us recommended option 1, and don’t let the insurance company get possession of the car until they offer what the car is worth. (The insurer is responsible for the storage fees until they can negotiate a settlement.)

Definitely welcome any advice, comments, jokes, etc.

Definitely file the claim. Let your insurer handle the bulk of the legalities of getting the full recovery. The thing here is to not sign anything that states that your claim is settled with your own insurance company.

Doing it this way will get you some cash immediately; and any subrogation your insurer gets has to go to you first until your deductible has be repaid.

I would also get your own attorney to represent you to both your own insurer and against the party that hit you as well as the party you subsequently hit. The cost for the attorney could be recovered against the party that hit you in the first place.

Also, be sure to get a copy of the police report.


I would also file a claim. I was in this exact situation once. In a multi car accident where you hit someone from behind, there can be debates on the order of who hit who first. Fortunately, in my case the police report was clear enough as the officer witnessed the accident.


I’d have called to start a claim at the accident site. I have done so in past with no issues.

1 Like

I’ve done that before, in hindsight didn’t see any advantage to that since I had to get off to talk to the police. In this case, I was not the policyholder so that option wasn’t available to me.

Certainly wouldn’t surprise me if there were debates, but the driver in front of me saw everything in his rear view mirror and knew we weren’t at fault. The “confession” from the driver behind us will also work in our favor.

Relieved that our airbags didn’t go off - I hear that can be painful.

100% file a claim against the rear end driver, and allege 100% of fault to him/her. Just in case the guy in front of you gets manifested injuries later on, protect yourself by putting yourself in to the “also a victim” category and not a partially responsible party.


Definitely file a claim with the rear car’s policy. Wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and get your insurance company involved as well due to the intricacies of a 3 car accident. If the front car says the wrong thing in their description of the accident the back car’s insurer could try to put some liability on you and you would need your insurance company to deal with that.

An insurance adjuster in Texas told me that in her state, depending how far back you were, you may be partially responsible for hitting the car in front of you.

I’d be inclined call your insurer and let them figure it out.

Given the potential to have to deal with claims adjusters from the other drivers’ insurers, the risk that the at-fault driver might not have PD limits sufficient to cover damage to both vehicles, and the small-but-nonzero chance that there might have a late-emerging injury…there are all sorts of ways the claim could go sideways if you pursue it directly with the at-fault driver.

Getting professionals involved to advocate for you will theoretically spare you some stress, and an adjuster from your insurer won’t be seeking 1/3rd of your ultimate recovery as contingent compensation.

The downside of going the “call your insurer and let them figure it out” is the potential that it might impact your auto insurance rates/underwriting/tiering for a while (depending on the state and insurer), but you’re an actuary who apparently feels comfortable having a $2k deductible. You probably can afford that risk; just think of it as the cost of reducing hassle.

Also: make a note to get a dash cam with a rear camera for the new car. Having video reduces potential shenanigans arising from drivers telling different stories, and provides an opportunity to videographically complain about other drivers on YouTube or social media.

notify your own company. need them involved in case you get named by the car you hit. could come after you for reasons. admit nothing.


I was stopped because traffic in front of me wasn’t moving, and there was no place for me to go when the driver behind hit me. I was considering admitting the fact that I can’t fight the laws of physics, but thanks to your advice I will not.

1 Like