What should I do if I get in an auto accident?

It is never fun to get into an accident. It doesn’t matter if it is a small fender bender or a 12 car pileup; it can be scary. Though most of us have experienced or witnessed accidents, many of us remain unclear on what steps to take when an accident occurs. Here are the following steps that I always tell my clients:

  • Do not admit guilt. Even if you feel you are in the wrong, it is advisable not to admit fault in an accident. The police officers and/or the insurance company will ask all the necessary questions to determine who is at fault. You just need to focus on the next few steps.
  • Make sure everyone is okay. Your vehicles are important, but they are replaceable. You and the other driver/passengers aren’t. Take some time to make sure everyone is alright. If you need to call the police or an ambulance, do so.
  • Gather all pertinent information. When it comes to insurance claims after accidents, it is important to be prepared. There is no such thing as too much information. Here’s a list of the most important information to gather:
    • Full Name & phone numbers for all the individuals involved in the accident (including bystanders or witnesses who happen to stop – especially important if you and the other driver disagree on what happened)
    • Driver’s License number for the person who was driving the vehicle
      • Tip: if you have a good camera on your phone and there is good lighting, you can simply take a picture of the other person’s driver’s license. Just be sure the number is clearly legible.
    • Owner of the vehicle
      • If this is different from the driver, make sure to get the full name and contact information for them as well.
    • Vehicle Information
      • Be sure to jot down the year, make, model, and license plate number of the other vehicle. While you’re at it, write down the color as well. These are all questions the insurance company may ask you.
    • Insurance information for the vehicle
      • Must-Haves: insurance company, policy number, and primary named insured on the policy.
      • Helpful: name and contact information of their insurance agent, and contact information for their claims department
      • Please note: while this information will be available from the police report, it can take up to a week to get the report. Typically, you will not want to wait this long to turn in a claim.
  • Take pictures of the damage to both your vehicle & the other person’s vehicle.
    • Even if you don’t see any damage, it is still important to document this. Ultimately, taking these photographs will protect you in case the other person attempts to blame you for damage that might occur later.
  • Call your agent.
    • Once you’ve made sure everyone’s okay, gathered the important information, and spoken with the police officers, you’ll want to give your agent a heads up right away. Generally speaking, it’s better to call your agent directly so they can advise you regarding how best to turn in a claim. They’ll walk you through the rest of the process and make sure you’re well on your way to being taken care of.

Of course the hope is that you never need this information, but now you have the basics just in case. If you have any additional questions, feel free send Ken an email at ken@kengarryins.com.