Being involved in a car accident can be a very scary and stressful experience. Preparing yourself will help you avoid potentially harmful and expensive mistakes. In the wake of a collision, being prepared will also help to eliminate confusion and allow you to focus on the information you need to obtain at the scene.
- Familiarize yourself with the details of your policy, so you know what is covered. Is the cost of towing your vehicle covered? Can you rent a vehicle? These are some examples of what you should consider.
- Keep the following items in your glove compartment at all times; a pencil (pens dry up or freeze), a notebook and your car insurance.
- Check to make sure everyone is ok. If there are any injuries call 911 immediately.
- If the vehicles are drivable move them off to the side of the road and out of the danger of moving traffic.
- Stay calm. Do not admit fault of an accident at the collision scene.
- Record the information of all people involved in the accident; including names, addresses, phone numbers, vehicle information (make and model), driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and car insurance information.
- Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses that witnessed the collision. If you’re unable to get any witness information record the make and model of the witnesses’ car as well as the licence plate info.
- Document all damage in detail and if possible, take pictures; this may help during the claims process.
- Make note of the accident and be sure to include details such as the exact location, how it happened, the speed that you were driving and any other relevant details. This will help you remember all of the details when filling out an accident report and/or contacting your insurance company.
To avoid seeing their auto insurance rates rise, some drivers choose not to file a claim with their insurance company and pay for damages out of their own pocket. There are many risks associated with accepting a deal like this from another driver. You could end up with unfinished repairs, additional costs and legal issues.
Drivers involved in an accident should call their insurance company, get advice and then decide whether or not they want to file an insurance claim. Some risks associated with handling claims privately include:
- The costs associated with a rental car will not be provided while your car is being repaired, your insurance company will not be available to help you and if any extra repairs or health issues come up, you’re on your own when it comes to covering costs.
- The other driver may end up going to their insurance company. You may be denied insurance coverage because you didn’t file a claim.
- Without your insurance agency standing behind you there is no guarantee that the necessary repairs are made and you may end up paying way more money for repairs. Insurance companies and auto repair shops have set rates agreed upon by the insurance company.
- Even a minor accident can cause a physical injury that arises after the accident is long over. You may not be eligible for medical benefits from your insurance company, if you didn’t report the accident.
- You must call the police if the accident results in physical injury or property damage over $1,000. You run the risk of being charged with leaving the scene of an accident if the other driver decides to report the accident after the fact.
- By not contacting the police and your insurance provider, you are vulnerable. You don’t know if the other driver is being legitimate and honest. You may be found guilty by the law for not reporting the situation and incur substantial legal costs in addition to having your insurance cancelled.
At first glance it may seem that dealing with property damages privately will save you time and money. It’s not worth trying to protect your insurance premium in the long run, especially if you are 100 percent not at fault. If you did not cause the accident, you have nothing to fear – your rates won’t be affected.
When filing a claim with your insurance company, have all of the accident details ready for explanation. Once a claim has been filed, an adjuster will determine the extent to which a claim is covered in the policy and guide you through the process. In some cases, the entire process can be taken care of over the phone.
- Stay calm, keep yourself and others safe. Only get out of your car if it is safe to do so
- Turn on your hazard lights.
- Call 911 if anyone is injured.
- Assess the accident scene and make sure that there are no dangers.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved. Get their names, addresses, phone numbers, licence information, insurance company name and policy number. Confirm the licence information by viewing documents and licence plates.
- Obtain the contact information of any witnesses who are at the scene.
- Take photographs of the accident, including the damage to the car and road conditions.
- Call your insurance company right away.
- Move anyone who is injured – wait for medical help to arrive.
- Leave the scene of the accident.
- Accept a direct offer of payment of damage from the other driver. Settling for direct payment may not be as advantageous as it seems. If you’re not at fault, the accident won’t affect your driving record nor will you have to pay a deductible.
- Sign any documents other than the police report.
- Get your vehicle repaired without clearing it with your insurance company; they may refer you to a repair facility where the work is guaranteed.