Traffic accidents in Korea: Do you know what to do?

  • Published
  • By 8th Fighter Wing Legal Staff
  • 8th Fighter Wing
Do you have car insurance to drive off-base in Korea? Do you know what kind of coverage you purchased? Do you know what to do if you are in an accident off-base? It is incredibly important for you to be able to answer these questions.

Korean law differs from American law. Under Korean law, drivers are responsible for the safety of pedestrians and other drivers. If a driver is involved in an accident, off-base, it will almost always be considered his or her fault even if the driver did not do anything that would be considered wrong under American law.

If you are at fault, essentially you will have to pay for the other party's injuries. In Korea, if a driver is at fault, he or she may be charged with a criminal offense. Settling with the injured party will help you to avoid criminal liability.

This means that if you are in a traffic accident, you need to make sure the Korean Police understand that your insurance will pay for a settlement with the injured party.

The first step in this process is to call whomever your insurance carrier is, and make sure that your auto insurance covers both property damage and injury to another party in an accident. The second step is to make sure you have the ability to convey this information to Korean police.

You should know your insurance company's phone number. Tell the Korean police to talk directly to your insurance company regarding your insurance coverage.

If the Korean police do not speak English, USAA will put a translator on the line for you. Lastly, make sure you have your Status of Forces Agreement card with you and that your unit SOFA representative is contacted. A copy of the SOFA card can be found at:

Do not answer any questions until your SOFA representative is contacted. Do not sign any documents that you do not understand. Also, remember you have the right to remain silent and ask for an interpreter.