STUDY: Only 43% of Drivers Say They Would Report Car Accidents to Insurance Staff Staff

While almost all drivers in the United States are legally required to have car insurance, it turns out that a majority would not make a claim for a small or moderate car accident.

The automobile research team took a survey of 1,087 U.S. residents who routinely drive their car and found that only 43% would report a small or moderate car accident they were responsible for to their insurance company for coverage.

Study Findings

  • Only 43% of drivers say they would report an accident they cause to insurance to make a claim.
  • Men and women are equally likely to report or not report car accidents they cause to insurance.
  • Age plays a minor factor in responses, with drivers under 35 more likely to make a claim, and drivers over 55 more likely to avoid making a claim by paying out of pocket.

Reasons Why People Don’t Make Auto Insurance Claims

When one driver is clearly at fault for a wreck in an at-fault state, it’s most common to see an increase to their yearly premiums, most likely several hundred dollars, following the crash. It seems people are more likely to pay for a car accident out of pocket believing it will ultimately be cheaper to pay in cash for damages as opposed to dealing with an increased premium. 

As an example, if the damage caused by the accident is less than a few thousand dollars, many drivers assume it will be cheaper in the long term to simply pay the upfront cost and avoid an increase in their monthly rate. As an estimate, if a driver’s rates go up 30%–40% following a moderate crash, and they are currently paying $1,500 a year for car insurance, they could see their rates jump $500–$600 per year. Over several years, this quickly can add up to more than the car accident’s total cost out of pocket.

Insurance increases do function on a scale of severity though, meaning if the accident is relatively minor, a driver can expect the claim won’t be as high as a more catastrophic accident with bodily injury.

The survey conclusion feels in line with earlier research conducted by the Reviews team that found the majority of people ignore their check engine light for as long as possible. When it comes to cars, many drivers seem to prefer avoiding inevitable bad news.

It’s especially important to note that it can be risky for at-fault drivers to avoid filing a claim for an accident. Costs can escalate rapidly following a crash, especially one with bodily injury or unexpected damage that appears only after a mechanic inspects a vehicle. 


  • The survey collected responses March 23–30, 2021.
  • 1,087 U.S. residents were polled for the survey.
  • All survey responses were collected online with no personally identifiable information.

About the Authors

The staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.