Do you really know what to do after an accident?
True story. One of our very own agents, who has helped many of you through claims of your own, was involved in an accident this winter. Her car was blindsided on a snowy evening after work, did a 360 in the middle of a busy road, and landed smashed into a telephone pole. The accident left her so shook up that she forgot the advice she gives out every day.
Below are some helpful tips to help remind you what to do after an auto accident.
1. Think SAFETY FIRST! If the accident is minor and there are no serious injuries try to get your car off to the side of the road. You are not out of danger if you are still on the road and while you may be upset or want to check out the damage, you need to protect yourself and your passengers first.
2. Keep an emergency kit in your glove box. Items like a cell phone, pen & paper for notes, camera (or cell with camera), contact list of law enforcement numbers, auto insurer information, and flashlight all can come in handy. Kits are available for your trunk, and include safety cones, warning triangles, and emergency flares.
3. Exchange information but NEVER ADMIT FAULT at the scene of an accident. That is up to the police and insurance companies to determine. Be polite, but remember that statements you make at the scene can be misinterpreted and come back to haunt you. You should exchange the following information: Name, address, phone number(s), insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number, as well as the license plate number. Take note if possible of the year, make, and model of each vehicle.
4. If possible, take pictures. Most of our cell phones have built in cameras. Pictures help recreate the accident when adjusters are trying to determine fault. Without them, often it’s your word against theirs!
5. Where there any witnesses? If so, try to get their name and phone number and thank them for sticking around. By showing your appreciation at the scene of an accident they are more likely to help substantiate your story later on.
6. Call the police. Police may not respond if there are no injuries or if the vehicles are drivable, however they still must document the call. A police report helps the insurance company settle your claim faster.