In most cases, your car insurance company does not report accidents to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, depending on your state of residence, either you or the police are probably required to file a report with the DMV, regardless of whether your insurance company gets involved. In addition, your insurance contract likely requires you to alert your insurance company about any collision you are involved in, even if you do not make a claim. 

Car accidents are a stressful event and sometimes life-altering. Not only is the accident itself a stressful moment, but the process of insurance, paperwork, and police reports that follow can also take a mental toll. Below is some helpful information regarding who files accident reports with the DMV, when, and how the insurance company uses them.

Key Takeaways

  • In general, your car insurance company does not report accidents to the DMV.
  • Many states have laws that require the police—or you—to file a report with the DMV; one most always be filed if someone is injured or killed in a collision.
  • The main reason why an insurance company communicates with the DMV about your driving history is if your insurance lapses, does not meet certain standards, or if you are convicted of a serious driving offense, such as a DUI.

Reporting an Accident to the DMV

In many states, a DMV report is required following any accident that you are involved in, regardless of who is at fault. This requirement is often subject to a property damage threshold that dictates which collisions are accidents that require reporting and which are simply "fender-benders."

For example, in New York, all drivers involved in collisions that cause at least $1,000 in collective property damage are required to report a "Civilian Accident Report" to the DMV. If anyone was injured in the accident, you have just 10 days from the date of the accident to file this report.

If someone is injured or killed in a collision, it must be reported to the DMV regardless of your state of residence. In most cases, accidents that meet your state's reporting criteria require the aid of the police or other emergency services. When the police are involved, they are required to make a DMV report. Your state may require you to submit a report first if the police cannot do so in a timely manner.

If the accident is not severe enough to require the aid of emergency personnel—and there is no police report made—the DMV is generally not aware of the incident, even if you make a claim on your insurance. However, having a police report certainly helps when making a claim, as the police report contains detailed information about the accident.

When an insurance company investigates an accident, it uses a police report to determine who is at fault and how to proceed with the claim, so make sure it's accurate.

When Your Insurance Company Contacts the DMV

The primary reason your insurance company would notify the DMV about your driving activity is if your insurance does not meet certain standards. In the United States, drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, even if they do not carry insurance to cover damage to their own vehicles.

If you allow your insurance policy to lapse, your car insurance company notifies the DMV, which may suspend or revoke your license until you are fully insured.

In addition, if you are convicted of a serious driving offense, such as driving while under the influence, your insurance company can file a Statement of Responsibility, or SR-22, with the DMV. The SR-22 proves that you carry the minimum necessary insurance required by your state. Keep in mind, though, that not all insurance companies offer the option of filing an SR-22 and most do not insure drivers who have lost their driving privileges.