Car accidents give rise to an array of emotions including fear, anxiety, anger, and confusion. To eliminate some of the stresses associated with a car accident, it is best to prepare as much as possible beforehand. You should always keep your insurance information handy when driving. It is also important to keep a general understanding of what to do during an accident. Here are some car accident first steps:
  • Remain calm and take a deep breath. Do not panic when you are involved in a car accident.
  • Assess whether you have injuries and call the ambulance if necessary. If you are injured, or unsure about injuries, call an ambulance.
  • Make sure the scene is safe. If the accident was minor and the vehicles are movable, move vehicles from the intersection to a safe area. Assess the scene to make sure you are not around dangerous elements such as fire, etc.
  • Call 911. Even if you believe the accident was minor, it is important to contact the police. This strengthens your claim and ensures safety.
  • Gather pertinent information. Gather information about the other driver, including license plate number, name, contact information and insurance carrier. Also, take notes about the accident. Take photographs of the scene and vehicles whenever possible.
  • Notify your insurance company immediately. If possible, contact your insurance company at the scene after you have alerted the police. Notifying your insurance company is the first step in the claims process.
Filing a Claim Through Your Insurance Carrier: When? Contact your insurance carrier immediately following an accident. Every insurance carrier requires notification of a claim within a specific time frame. The time frame varies and may not be remembered during an accident. Therefore, reporting your claim immediately protects your interests. How? Contact the car insurance company using the number on your insurance card. The initial call starts the claims process. The car insurance claims agent will ask you some preliminary information and provide you a claim number. When you open the claim, you will rely on the information gathered during the aforementioned “car accident first steps.” Specifically, you want to make sure they have as many details about the scene, drivers, and injuries as possible. Ask the insurance claims agent what documents, and or forms, will be needed to process your claim. After the initial call to your insurance company, you should follow these steps:
  • Follow up with medical treatment if necessary.
  • Choose a repair shop. Some insurance carriers may have their own affiliated repair shops. However, it is your decision which shop to use.
  • Provide all required documentation to the insurance carrier and provide all necessary updates on medical treatment and repairs.
  • Keep a record of the expenses you have incurred because of the accident. Depending on your policy, this may include lost wages, and medical expenses.
  • Keep copies of all your paperwork.
  • Negotiate a Settlement. Make sure you review your policy limits and don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Filing a Claim Through the Other Driver’s Insurance Carrier: This should be done by the other driver. However, you must be diligent and make sure a claim is opened on your behalf. Using the information you gathered during the accident first steps, notify your insurance carrier and provide the other driver’s insurance information. Your insurance carrier will help you with a claim to the other driver’s insurance. If necessary, you may contact the other driver’s insurance carrier to open the claim on your own. Then follow the insurance claim steps previously provided. In some instances, the other driver may not have enough coverage for your damages and you may still need your own car insurance to cover the difference. Many people dread having to deal with a car accident. To eliminate some of the stress and protect your interests it is best to remain prepared. Keep your insurance information readily accessible in the event of a car accident. Also, be sure to follow all the accident first steps. This will help you prepare your auto insurance claim from the very beginning. Next, follow the claim steps.