A fender bender is a minor accident between multiple cars.
What is a fender bender?
Sure, it’s a fun phrase to say, but a fender bender is also a total pain in the ass. A fender bender is a low-speed car accident that doesn’t result in serious injuries; the vehicle damage is minimal, and your car is still in driveable shape. Examples of fender benders include:
- Getting hit when you’re backing your car out of a spot in a parking lot
- Running a stop sign and hitting another car at low speed
- Being rear-ended in the Best Buy parking lot by a distracted driver who is playing Candy Crush on his iPhone 13
- Rear-ending another driver because you were singing along to Bruce Springsteen and accidentally rolled into the car in front of you in slow moving traffic
Most fender benders leave minor damage to a car. Should you call the cops? Use your own judgment. But whether you report the incident or not you’ll still need to exchange car insurance information with the other driver, and file an insurance claim.
What to do after getting in a car accident
Take a deep breath and check on yourself and any passengers—including your pets! Injuries can happen in minor car accidents, and you’re probably all shaken up. You might be hurt without realizing it at first. If the accident happened on the road, move your car to the side and turn on your flashers.
Once you know everyone’s okay and you’re out of the way of traffic, get out of your car and exchange information with the other driver.
Write down their auto insurance policy number and carrier; the driver’s phone number and other contact information; plate number; and driver’s license number. It’s easy to lose a random piece of paper, so also take pictures of everything with your phone. Note the time of day, the weather, road conditions, and traffic at the time of the incident. The more information you have to give your insurance company, the better.
If the other driver is angry or confrontational and you don’t feel safe getting out of your car, try to at least get their plate number. You can also roll down your window a few inches and pass items back and forth through the crack. Always put your safety, and the safety of your passengers, first after a car accident. You don’t need to follow up your fender bender with a road-raging loonie who has a baseball bat in his trunk.
If you plan to file a claim with your insurance company you should call the local station to file a police report.They’ll send out a police officer to take down information about what happened. Be sure and get a copy of the police report; your insurer will need it when you submit a claim.
Contacting your insurance company after a fender bender
You can typically drive your car away after a minor car accident. Please don’t drive if it’s not safe… you could cause further damage! You’ll probably need to get damages fixed, so contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the fender bender to file an insurance claim, and provide them with a copy of the police report once it’s available.
Looping in your insurer is a good idea even if you think the other driver was at fault. They’ll collect the other driver’s insurance information and work with their insurer to fix the vehicle’s damage. If you and the other driver tell different stories about what happened in that parking lot or on the highway, the insurance companies assist in determining who is really at fault.
Also, sometimes injuries like whiplash can become evident days to weeks after the car accident. You’ll want your insurer’s help if you have to go back to the other driver’s insurance company to expand your insurance claim to include personal injury.
Getting your car fixed after a minor car accident
If the other driver is at fault, you’ll go through their insurance company. If you’re at fault, or it’s a no-fault accident, your insurance company will recommend a repair shop and coordinate repairs, or you can select your own.
If you’re responsible, you’ll have to pay the deductible in your insurance policy when fixing the vehicle damage. After paying your car insurance deductible, your insurer covers the rest of the cost of repairs (up to any limits on your policy). However, depending on your deductible, with a fender bender the repairs could be so minor and inexpensive to fix that you end up paying for them all out-of-pocket.