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A week ago I was traveling in Germany by car on an autobahn, There was no one on the road so I was in the correct lane like the law says and I was not speeding (nearly 120km/h in a no speed limit zone). Suddenly a small light appears on the lane (only one light, and it was blinking). I tried to stop and change lane (I supposed the light was there for a reason (probably a crash). I stopped nearly 100 meters after the light but I hit the light. There was a cop who told me to move to the emergency lane and turn on my hazard lights (to avoid someone crashing into me). Then she placed her car before the point where the first light was, finished placing the lights (to close the lane in a visible way), took photographs of the damage to my car and took my insurance details, and gave me a contact card of the highway police.

I called my insurance company Friday, and they told me they have to pass the case to the cross-border department. Then the cross-border department called me today and they asked me if I want to claim on my insurance to fix the car.

I'm new to insurance and especially on incidents in other countries, what should I do?

The damage isn't really big, and it's purely cosmetic (but I can't quantify it in money). The cop didn't explicitly admit "it's my fault", but her actions made me think she was assuming it was.

Is there a way to claim on their insurance, or fulfill the claim only if they are not going to reset my no-claims bonus?

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    @pnuts Thanks for editing yes, it reflect what I wanted to say. – Maurizio Carboni Jan 9 '17 at 19:07
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    @Max I'm not sure the accident it's my fault, I suppose only 1 small light to close a lane isn't what the law says, after she finished putting them, the lane was closed correctly. I simply think she put a light and forgot the rest because she was stressed by the real crash half a mile after me. – Maurizio Carboni Jan 9 '17 at 19:07
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    If the fault it's mine I'm "happy" to pay to fix the damage, if is a distraction of the cop obviously I prefer to claim on them. – Maurizio Carboni Jan 9 '17 at 19:09
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    The difficulty for you will be to prove that your were not in the wrong; and that can take time, and we all know that time equals money and even if you "win" it might just cost you more than just your car light. – Max Jan 9 '17 at 20:58
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    I don’t think the ‘who has the fault’ part can be answered conclusively; especially not on the internet by a bunch of strangers who weren’t there. – Jan Jan 10 '17 at 3:09
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Your question can be divided into two subquestions:

Who has liability for a car accident in Germany?

Liability for an accident is determined by the local legislation, in this case the German one. Whether you are a local or a foreigner makes no difference.

However, reading your description, I don't see any clear indication that you are liable yet. The case is a borderline one (did the police set the lights according to the protocol? What happens when somebody makes an accident before they finish setting up the lights? etc.), so you might need the advice of a lawyer.

How to claim on insurance?

Some insurances accept to pay back the reparation directly to a client. So that you could have your car repaired, and then ponder whether this small reparation is worth the potential loss of your bonus once you know the real costs. To the best of my knowledge, there is no legal obligation to use your insurance in that case. I suggest you ask your insurance about this possibility (they might not offer it).

Besides, insurances have lawyer teams for such difficult questions, because it is in their interest not to pay for something if their client is not liable. So if you submit your case to your insurance, they will have the case examined from a legal point of view. Ask them about that as well. So unless the damage is really small and you want to get it over quick, I suggest you submit the case to your insurance now, like Moo suggests.

  • Thanks @almerilalt for the response and everyone else for the useful comments. I made the insurance aware, but I think I will not make the claim cause the damage it's low and it's hard to know who has liability. – Maurizio Carboni Jan 11 '17 at 21:42
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Report it to your insurance exactly as you remember the incident happening - your insurance will battle it out with the other party as to who has ultimate liability and who is at fault, there is basically very little for you to do in that area.

You should report all incidents to your insurer, as in many jurisdictions both parties have several years to lodge a claim and you may have difficulty proving non-liability in two years time. Best to get it over with now.

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In addition to both answers there is no big difference in handling an harmless traffic accident in your home country and abroad.

Before you drive, you need to ask your insurance if the car is protected abroad, they will also inform you about the papers you need to carry. If you lease a car, the car will automatically have insurance (but perhaps only the minium so it still can ruin you). It is entirely possible that if you drive a car without knowledge into a country where your insurance is invalid, you will be ruined.

For the EU you need only be a member of an EU country, all other countries accept your insurance.

Essentially you always call the police (it does not matter if you are convinced that you are guilty or innocent), they will gather evidence and write a protocol which is neutral for the involved insurances. Even if you are convinced you are guilty, police may find out that you are a victim of an insurance fraud or if you think you are innocent, you overlooked a sign. If your car is leased, you inform them as soon as possible of the incident. Then the insurances will find their solution and inform you of the result. Case closed.

It is possible that if the damage is neglible you both agree to not involve the insurance (that is the reason the police asked).

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