Do car insurance companies have access to police reports?

Car insurance companies can access police reports from the DMV to investigate claims and determine insurance rates. Read on to learn the exact effects of a police report on insurance rates.

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UPDATED: Jun 17, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: Jun 17, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • Insurance companies can obtain police reports from the DMV
  • Police reports can aid insurance companies in claims investigations
  • Your rates may increase due to the contents of a police report

Do police notify insurance companies when they make reports? Car insurance companies can easily access police reports from any state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV). These police reports are used to determine your involvement in an accident and can be used for investigative purposes when you file a car insurance claim. Because insurance fraud is such a serious issue, insurance companies have the right to perform due diligence investigations on any claim received. 

In most cases, police reports affect your insurance rates. If you’re concerned about a recent police report or are just interested in learning more about what information your insurance company can see, we’ve got your answers right here. We can also help you find the best full coverage car insurance rates.

How do car insurance companies get police reports?

Anytime the police are called to the scene of an accident, the officer will file a report. The information in the report is based on the officer’s observations at the scene and his conversation with those involved in the accident. The officer may also interview any eyewitnesses and include information obtained from them in his report.

The police report is submitted to the state, which means the DMV has it on record. Insurance companies can gain access to any police reports that the DMV has access to, which means information about any reported accident is going to be in the database. 

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What information is on a police report?

Police reports after an accident will include pertinent information, such as:

  • Date of the accident
  • Description of the incident
  • The extent of the damage

These reports are critical as they can determine who was at fault in the accident. For example, if you were side-swiped due to an illegal turn, the police report should indicate this. The insurance assessor would view the facts and, in this case, place the other driver at fault. Therefore, this information would not have a negative effect on your rates. 

These reports will stay on your driving record for up to seven years. Insurance companies typically won’t go back further than three years into your driving record, though, to determine your rates.

How do car insurance companies use police reports?

Yes, the effects of a police report on insurance rates can be significant. Insurance companies use police reports for a couple of primary purposes.

Investigating Claims

When you file a car insurance claim, your insurance company will likely pull the police report. This is to ensure that the claim is legitimate and to determine who was at fault. Insurance companies can also use the police report to gain access to the contact information of any witnesses to the accident. This information can be used to talk to the witness to clarify any ongoing concerns.

An investigation helps the company determine how it should proceed with the claim. Therefore, it is critical to always be honest and forthright when making an insurance claim. If false claims are made, the insurance company will find out.

Determining Rates

Insurance companies use your driving record to determine your rates. If you have a recent police report indicating you were at fault in an accident, chances are your premium will increase as a result. As we mentioned, insurance companies typically only look back three years, so older police reports are unlikely to have an effect.

However, each state has different laws on how far back insurance companies can look, so you’ll have to check with your state department of insurance for clarification.

Police reports can be pulled to adjust your rates at any time. This includes getting a quote for a new policy, when your existing policy is about to renew, or when a recent claim has been made.

Always Assume Your Insurance Company Will Pull Your Police Report

While it is possible that your insurance company won’t pull a police report when a claim is made, the chances are high that it will. You should always assume your insurance company will obtain the report one way or another.

If your rate increases due to an accident where the police report reflects you were at fault, you should consider shopping around for the cheapest car insurance companies. Just because your current company raised your rate doesn’t mean that another company won’t be able to offer you more affordable insurance, even after a police report states you as the driver were at fault.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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