Insurance.com's Steps to Take When You're in a Car Accident

By Insurance.com Posted : 08/22/2006

If you've been in a car accident, then you know how scary and confusing it can be. It is easy to find yourself mixed up and unsure of the details you need to protect yourself and your passengers. Your auto insurance company will handle a lot of the logistics out of your control. To help you remain organized and focus on what you can control, the following are steps to take when you're in a car accident.

Car Accident Kit
Just in case the worst ever happens, prepare a car accident kit to keep in your glove box. Your kit should include a pen, a pad of paper, your vehicle's registration, a copy of your auto insurance card, emergency contact numbers and a disposable camera. Also, you should include road flares (available from many auto part stores) or 'light sticks' that can be used at night to warn drivers of the accident. Small reflective road signs are also available that can be placed several hundred feet before and after the accident to make other drivers know they have to slow down or avoid the area.

Stay Calm
Car accidents can happen quickly. That is why it is important to stay calm, collect your thoughts and evaluate the situation at hand. Staying calm will not only help you remember the details of the accident, but it will also help keep all parties involved focused on the accident.

Make Sure No One is Hurt
Check for injuries to yourself, your passengers and the other parties involved. Do not move any injured people; instead call 911 for medical assistance.

Move Your Car
In the case of a minor impact or fender bender, you should pull over into a shoulder, taking your vehicles out of the main stream of traffic. However, if the accident is more serious, do not move any vehicles. Instead, set down flares, warning triangles, light sticks or other such items to alert both oncoming and following traffic. Set these warning signs up both ahead and behind the incident, and if the accident occurred near a bend in the road, set up the warnings on either side of the bend.

Call the Police
No matter how minor of an accident, call 911 to report the incident. If the police are unable to come to the scene, make sure to exchange the following information with all parties involved including;

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Auto insurance company name and phone number
  • Policy number
  • Driver's license number
  • License plate number
  • Year, make, model and color of car

In addition, make sure to get the names, address, phones and driver's license numbers of all witnesses.

File a Report
In the event that the police are not able to respond to your call, you'll need to go to the nearest police station and file an accident report. This report will also help your auto insurance company during the claims process.

Document the Accident
Use your disposable camera from your car accident kit to photograph the cars involved, the position of the cars and any damage done to the vehicles. If you don't have your camera available, make sure to write down detailed notes of the accident for your auto insurance company.

Know What to Say and Not Say
While at the scene, do not tell the other drivers or the police officer that you think the car accident was your fault and don't discuss the specifics of the accident with anyone other than the police officer or your auto insurance company agent. In addition, do not accept any monetary compensation from the other driver; your auto insurance agency will take care of reimbursing you for the damage.

Call Your Auto Insurance Company Immediately
As soon as you can, report the car accident to your auto insurance company. To help expedite the call, make sure to have the following information in front of you,

  • Date and time of the car accident
  • The direction and speed you and the other drivers were going
  • How the car accident occurred
  • Name and information of the parties and witnesses involved
  • If anyone was injured in the car accident
  • Where and what damage was done to your car
  • Police report number

Know What Your Car Insurance Policy Covers
Depending on the damage to your car, you may need to rent a car while your vehicle is in the repair shop. If part of your car insurance coverage, your auto insurance company will reimburse you for the use of the rental car. However, if rental coverage is not part of your auto insurance policy, then you will be responsible for the cost of the rental car - a hard lesson to learn after you've been involved in a car accident.

Your best option is to do your homework first and find out if rental coverage is part of your policy and if not, call your auto insurance company and request to have it added. To assist you with your research, Insurance.com offers an auto comparison application that helps you compare the rates of up to 12 auto insurance companies - helping you save time and money on your auto insurance.

Compare real rates and save real money
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