I got in an accident, what do I do?
You’ve just found yourself in an unfortunate car accident. You know that you need to call your car insurance company to file a claim, but what steps can you take to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible? Before you go can home and lie down you’ll need to make sure you’ve got all the information you need to present to your car insurance provider.
You never know if you might be taken to court so it’s best to record as many things as you can following the accident. After you’ve made sure everyone is okay talk to the other driver(s) involved in the accident to get the following information:
* Their full name, address, and phone number
* Their car insurance information
* The other vehicle’s license plate number
Beyond this, don’t discuss anything about the accident with others involved. You might have heard the phrase “never admit fault.” Even if you feel you might have caused the accident, you don’t want to say anything, otherwise that admission could be used in a claim against you or you could be put in a much worse situation if you are taken to court. Also try to get the contact information of any witnesses who are willing.
A picture is worth a thousand words
You will want to make sure that you take as many relevant pictures as possible. Take several pictures of the exteriors (and interiors if necessary) of all cars that were involved. Take pictures that capture the surrounding area along with the cars to provide a context for the accident. If there are any injuries, be sure to take pictures of those as well.
Start making calls to those you’ll need help from
Unless the damage is just a scratch or small dent and nobody is injured, you’ll want to also call the police. This is when you should talk about what occurred. Give as many details as possible but still don’t make any admissions of fault or blame yourself. Stick to the facts and allow the insurance companies to figure out who’s to blame.
Make sure that you call your insurance company the same day the accident occurs (if not possible the same day then as soon as you can afterward). Cooperate as much you can and chances are, since you’ve recorded the specifics of the accident so well, they will be more willing and able to accommodate you. Make sure you also check with your car insurance company before planning for any repairs. They’ll most likely want to inspect your car for larger claims and you don’t want to repair your car only to find out later that they won’t cover it. Keep all receipts and records of any car repairs or visits to the doctor following the accident as these will be relevant to the claims process.
Of course the best outcome would be to avoid an accident altogether, but life isn’t always so ideal. When you do run into these sorts of situations, it’s best to get more information than you need because that’s what will help you later on. Stay safe and be prepared!