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The police report isn't ready after my accident

I was in a car accident. The police report isn't ready. I have no information on the other driver. What do I do about my wrecked car?

- CR, California


If the police report was done by the Long Beach Police Department, the report will be ready about a week after the accident. What do you do in the meantime if you have no transportation?

If you have collision coverage and rental coverage under your auto insurance policy:

If you have collision coverage, you don't need to wait for the police report to get your car repaired or to get paid on the total loss of your car. With collision coverage, you can go through your carrier on your property damage claim. If your car is a total loss, your carrier will deduct your deductible from what they pay you. If your car is repairable, your carrier will deduct your deductible from what they pay the body shop.

In the meantime, you can rent a car and your carrier will reimburse you for it. Your policy will specify how much they will pay per day for a rental, and the maximum number of days they will cover.

Once the police report is available and you learn the identity of the other driver's insurance company, they will reimburse you on your deductible once they accept fault for the accident. How long will that take? If fault on the other driver is obvious, such as in a rear-end collision, they will probably accept fault and reimburse you on your deductible right away. If fault is not obvious, such as in an intersection collision where one car ran a red light and each driver blames the other driver, the other driver's insurance company may not accept fault right away. Not only will they need to interview their driver, they will also seek to interview any other witnesses and inspect the cars to determine the cause of the collision. This will delay reimbursement of your deductible.

As long as you were not at fault for the accident, going through your insurance company on your property damage claim will not affect your premiums whatsoever.

If you have no collision or rental coverage:

If you have no collision or rental coverage, you have no choice but to wait for the police report. Hopefully the other driver had auto insurance. Even though the law requires that every driver carry liability insurance, not every driver does.

Once the report is ready and you verify that the other driver was insured, that driver's carrier will pay to repair your car or pay for the total loss of the car, provided they accept fault for the accident.

In the meantime, you can get a rental car and the other driver's carrier will reimburse you once they accept fault. You do run the risk that you will never be reimbursed if it should turn out that the other driver was uninsured.

What if your car is at a tow yard incurring daily impound fees? Unless you are willing and able to pay the tow yard for the towing and storage fees to date, you have no choice but to wait for the police report.

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