Car insurance advice to wait for police causes worse crashes?

Two months ago, a terrible crash occurred. The news had an item that confused me:

My supervisor at work informed me that in Arizona, insurance companies will not pay for your damages if you move your car before the police takes a look to make a report. If that is the case, why don’t insurance companies change their advice/policy? Admittedly, the drivers were very irresponsible in this case; but do insurance companies recommend staying put in all cases? It looks to me there is some information missing here, what is the straight dope here?

In my state, it is an actual law that you have to move the cars if you can and no one is injured. There are signs on the roads telling people this. The radio traffic reports keep repeating this. There are special “accident investigation” pullouts on freeways.

This means that most people of course believe that is against the law to move them. Sheesh.

As for insurance companies, since they don’t send people to accident scenes in a timely fashion, they shouldn’t expect any control over the situation. Esp. when state laws are in effect. Being denied compensation due to obeying the law would be really stupid.

I can’t comment on Arizona but in Oregon, Portland at least, the cops don’t even stop for an accident unless there is an injury much less write up a report about it.

I have been in one accident in my life. It was a three car collison on the Highway, middle lane. A cop stopped and said “Anybody hurt?” we said “No”, he got back in his car and drove away with all 3 of use still in the middle lane.

I can’t believe that Arizona can be so much different that that…

This is a complete urban legend.

People seem to think that the police are going to get out their yellow marking chalk, cameras and a surveyor’s transit! Every accident I’ve ever witnessed in which the people left there cars in the middle of the road, when the police arrive the first thing they say is, “Get your goddamn car out of the road, moron!”

This isn’t relevant to U.S. law, but here in Panama it is a requirement that, in case of accident, you may not move your cars until the transit police show up. This causes the most horrendous traffic jams when the vehicles in question are blocking one or more lanes, which they usually are.

There is a particularly bad intersection right below my apartment, and I think I have seen at least 40 fender-benders in the 10 years I’ve lived there (and of course, I’m not home most of the day.) If I don’t hear the collision itself, I often become aware of the accident by hearing the horns start in the backed-up traffic.

Mmm, Hail Ants, the newspaper report mentioned this also, I checked with a local person too before posting this. (He mentioned that in California, were he lived before, there are regulations that tell insurance companies not to deny payment if you move your car). Maybe insurance companies in Arizona are different, If not, the newspaper was wrong also.

And if that were the case, my point then would be to ask local authorities to inform drivers about the right thing to do. Right now, local transit authorities only have ads about car-pooling. I have never seen ads to the public regarding the truth on the OP matter, and in light of that and other incidents, I think it is irresponsible.

I’m going to guess this varies from state to state. Here in Arkansas the police expect cars to be left as they were when the accident happened.

The police will come to the accident site, look over the position of the cars and any skid marks, and question the people involved. They will then write up a brief report, decide if anyone should be ticketed, and in many cases declare one driver to be at fault.

In Arkansas it is very important for the insurance company to know which driver has been declared at fault. This affects which company pays the claim.

A specific example - when my father was in a wreck in a parking lot recently, he left his truck exactly as it was. This blocked the flow of traffic in the parking lot.

One of the store employees came out and tried to make him move it. The employee was very angry and yelling. My father didn’t move the truck.

When the police arrived, they told my father he had done the right thing. The angry employee started yelling again. Well, you can imagine how that went. The police took him inside and gave him a chewing out.

So again, I imagine each state has their own laws, and maybe more importantly, their own unwritten understandings about wrecks will be handled.

Speaking from personal experience, I can vouch that getting the wrecked car(s) out of traffic is the best thing to do, and it doesn’t affect the insurance one way or another. Indeed, I tend to get very ticked off at people whose minor fender-benders just sit in the road and back up traffic for miles while they sit in the cars and twiddle their thumbs. (There was a great cartoon, I can’t remember when or where, but it showed two drivers in a minor accident arguing “yeah well my insurance agent can beat up your agent” and meanwhile they’re totally blocking the road).