Hopefully you will never be involved in an auto accident or need to file an insurance claim. Even the most careful and skilled drivers, however, can easily find themselves in the middle of a crash. Would you know what to do? Knowledge of what to do after the car accident can help make the insurance claims process easier and smoother so that you are back on the road faster.
If you are in an auto accident:
1. Try to stay calm, stop your vehicle and check for injuries. The life and health of you, your passengers and the other people involved in the accident is far more important than the vehicle itself.
2. If required, call the police and let them know of the accident, your location, how many people are involved, whether there are injuries and the types of injuries.
3. You may wish to take reasonable steps to protect yourself, and your vehicle, from further damage. Where possible and if legal, move the autos to the side of the road and turn on your hazards as soon as it is safe. If you have flares, you may wish to use them to warn oncoming traffic and to prevent additional crashes.
4. Taking lots of notes is a good practice, like:
• the date, time and location of the accident
• how the accident occurred – sometimes a drawing is worth a thous and words and can help enhance what you’ve noted
• the type and location of damage to your car
• the type and location of damage to the other cars or property involved
• the names, addresses and contact information of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident
• driver’s license numbers and all the information on the licenses
• insurance identifications including the name of the insurance company and policy number
• the names, addresses and contact information of witnesses
• the names and badge numbers of police officers or other first response personnel
(Being able to take notes is important so keep a pen and pad in your glove compartment, just in case.)
5. You may wish to ask the police officer when and where you can get a copy of the accident report. There’s a good chance you’ll need it when you submit your insurance claim to your insurer.
6. It’s usually a good idea to call your insurance company right away and report the accident because the sooner they know about the crash the quicker they can start working to resolve your insurance claim. As well, they’ll be able to explain the next steps, like where to have the car towed if necessary and arrange for an adjuster to come out and appraise the damage before any repair work is done.
7. There are a couple of don’ts you might want to consider like don’t discuss the financial limits of your auto insurance policy and avoid discussing the responsibility for the accident or circumstances of the accident with anyone other than the police or a representative of your insurance company.
Auto accidents take a significant toll on everyone involved. But, if you stay calm, make safety your priority and follow the above tips, you will get through the ordeal of being in an accident and submitting an insurance claim.