- Keep your registration and auto insurance papers, as well as any relevant medical information for you and your family, in the car.
- Make sure you have the right amount of auto coverage to fit your needs.
Immediately After an Accident
- Assess the Damage. If possible, pull the vehicle to the side of the road to a safe place to see if anyone is injured, and the extent of the damage to the vehicle.
- Call the police or highway patrol, if you are in a serious accident. Let law enforcement know if anyone is hurt and the extent of injuries. The police will notify the nearest medical unit. If the police can’t come to the scene of your car accident, you can head to the nearest police department (or their website) to file an incident report yourself. Having an official report can help in case the other driver decides to sue for damages or medical injuries, or there is more damage done to your car than initially thought. If the police do come to the accident scene, get the officers’ names and badge numbers and ask where you can get a copy of their report.
- Collect as much information as possible. Get the names and contact information of everyone involved in the crash, including witnesses. Ask the driver (or drivers if you are involved in a multi-car accident) for their license, car registration and insurance ID card. Get the make and model of the cars involved. Lastly, make note of the location of the accident, time of day and the weather conditions. You can use your smart phone or other device to document this information, as well as the accident itself, but it’s also a good idea to always keep a pad of paper/pen in your glove compartment. It may not be high-tech, but it is an easy way to record important information. When talking to others, keep to the facts. Do not discuss who was at fault, or how much insurance you have, with other drivers
- Don’t leave the scene of the accident. If you run into an unattended vehicle, try to find the owner. If you can’t, leave a note containing your name, address and phone number. Record the details of the accident, including the make and model of the car and the address where the accident occurred.
- Get the claims process started. Notify your insurance professional as soon as possible—the longer you wait, the harder it will be to remember the details. Many insurance companies now use mobile apps to get the claims process started. These apps allow you to report a claim, check the status, upload photos, check your deductible, schedule an appraisal, reserve a rental car, and request reimbursements for towing and glass claims. Some apps even allow you to notify the insurance adjuster what happened by visually re-creating the events and circumstances of your car accident. When working with your insurance company, make sure that you get the name, title and contact information of everyone you speak with. You will likely also receive claim forms to fill out. Make sure that you do this as soon, and as accurately, as possible. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask the claims adjuster for assistance. Your insurance company wants your claims experience to be as pleasant and efficient as possible.
Finally, keep a file of all of your notes and any claim forms. The more organized you are, the simpler and easier the claims process will be.
Source: Insurance Information Institute, “At the Scene of an Accident” iii.org website. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.iii.org/article/scene-accident
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