A car accident is a stressful and scary event, as several questions race through your mind at once. Should I approach the driver? Should I move my car? Do I call the police? When should I make a claim?
Hopefully, you’ve established a high level of trust with your insurance agency and the claims specialist representing you in preparation for the unfortunate incident. So, now what?
In the event of an car accident:
Whether you’ve run into a ditch or are involved in an accident with another vehicle, the first priority is to get to safety to minimize or prevent further damage. If you are on the road, make sure you are out of the way of traffic and turn on your hazard warning lights. If you or someone else is injured, call to request medical assistance. After ensuring everyone is out of harm’s way, call the police. Whether an accident is considered a minor fender-bender or a major collision, calling the police is important — and in some states — legally required. You may also want to call your independent insurance agent while you’re at the scene. That way, they can tell you exactly what they will need to process your claim. Finally, start gathering as much information from the scene as you can. The more information you attain, the better!
Primary information to document while the other driver is still on scene (if possible):
- Personal information of the other driver(s) and any witnesses: name, address, phone number, and driver’s license ID number.
- The driver’s auto insurance company and policy number. It would even be smart to take photos of the other driver’s insurance card.
- The year, make, model, color, VIN number, and license plate number of the other vehicle.
- Take photos of damages on vehicles and/or property. Make sure to take shots from different angles, showing the damage done to all vehicles involved. Taking pictures of location indicators, such as road signs, is useful. Look for skid marks on the road at the scene of the accident as well.
- Identify the officers and document their names and badge numbers; identify emergency service respondents if there is an emergency response.
- Ask the police officer(s) present where and how you can obtain a copy of the accident report.
What NOT to do after an accident:
- Move any injured persons.
- Apologize for the crash.
- Tell any party how much insurance you carry.
- Accept any money. If you do, you forfeit your right to file a claim.
- Agree to forget about the accident. Later on, the other person may file a lawsuit against you.
Once you have left the scene of the accident and documented all the necessary information, make sure to hire an auto body shop that provides guarantees and specific timelines on repairs. Most insurance policies have certain limits and deductibles, so find out settlement amounts before signing off on repair costs. If you don’t know where to take your vehicle to be fixed, most insurance companies will provide you with a list of repair shops that are backed by repair and labor guarantees. Expenses you incur as a result of the accident may be reimbursed under your policy, so keep copies of your paperwork in your files or on your device. You will likely refer to it later.
An accident can leave even the most experienced driver thrown for a loop, but following these steps may help you avoid some of the unnecessary worries and red tape involved in tackling the claims process. It will also help you get better value for your insurance dollars and give your insurance company enough detailed information to begin processing your claim as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Above all else, if you are in an accident and aren’t sure what to do, try to remain calm, call the police, and contact your independent insurance agent. Your agent can advise you on what insurance and surrounding details to obtain. And remember, you can contact us at any hour and someone will always be there to respond. We are your trusted advocates throughout the entire process.
For any claims related questions, please contact our Claims Specialist, Linda Decker, at 845-986-1177. In case of emergency or if you need immediate assistance, call our 24/7 line at 866-255-3439.
We are your business, home, auto, and life insurance solutions provider and partner, serving Warwick, Greenwood Lake, Florida, Goshen, Middletown, Chester, Monroe, Newburgh, Orange County, and the Hudson Valley.