If flying gives you anxiety, you’ve certainly heard the statistic that a car accident is around 60 times more likely to claim your life than an aviation crash from a kind person. That’s fantastic news if you’re going to take a cross-country journey, but it makes daily commuters a little uneasy: Car accidents may be devastating at their worst and expensive and disruptive at their best.
Fortunately for all motorists out there, auto insurance exists to lessen the financial and practical effects of an accident. No matter how serious the situation, you must always notify your auto insurance provider after a collision, even if you think you weren’t at fault [source: Insure]. While your insurance may pay for your medical expenses and auto repairs, the fair and prompt handling of your claim depends on the information you provide after the collision.
5. Simply the Facts: What, Where, and When, number five
Physically and emotionally stressful, car accidents can be. Even if you’re certain the other driver was at fault, you shouldn’t point fingers in the moments just after a collision. For this reason, your insurance agent shouldn’t frequently be the first person you phone. Instead, jot down important information in a small notepad or on your cell phone to record a fast voice memo. When you are safely away from the accident scene and can gather the information clearly and objectively, that is the optimum time to report the accident. The fundamentals are what your insurance provider will initially need to know:
- The accident’s date and time. It is your job to assist your insurance provider in reconstructing the accident scene, down to seemingly insignificant factors like weather and traffic conditions, in order for your claim to be handled as swiftly and fairly as possible.
- What actually took place. It can be difficult to accomplish this because of the high levels of adrenaline and emotions that follow this kind of situation, but it’s essential to have a detailed account of what happened to support your claim. Include information such as the participants’ locations, speeds, and directions of movement in addition to who struck whom.
We’ll discuss what information your insurance provider requires regarding the accident-related damage and how to best report it on the following page.
4: Bruises and Swellings: Report the Damage
Cell phone use while driving is often strongly discouraged, but in this case, the camera feature on your phone actually comes in handy. While you’re still at the accident scene, try to take pictures of any damage to your car, big or small, from all angles. Make sure to record any damage to the vehicles of others as well. You’ll need to compare your vocal or written description of the accident to the images when you do report the incident to your insurance provider.
Additionally, you must report any injuries you or anybody else may have sustained in the collision, but only after they have stabilized and received medical care. Don’t forget about property damage also. Your insurance provider needs to be informed if the computer of another motorist, which was sitting on their passenger seat when you struck their vehicle, was broken.
Similar to the accident’s play-by-play, objectivity is crucial in this situation as well: Your claim will appear much more legitimate if you don’t exaggerate the damage on your fender into a huge chasm across the front of your car. Your insurance company needs to know exactly what they might be paying for.
We’ve already addressed the where, when, and what, but what about the who? Discover what information you need to get from the other party in an accident by reading on.
3. Who Was Involved in Give Up the Digits?
After a collision, be sure to gather the following vital details from all parties [source: AAA]:
- Full name and contact information
- Numbers on a driver’s license and a license plate
- Name of the business and contact details for their insurance provider
- Policy identification number
- Any travelers’ names and contact information
- Basic vehicle information, such as the make, model, year, and color
In order for your insurance companies to begin processing your claims as quickly as possible, you should give your personal information to anyone else involved in the accident as well.
It’s common for people to borrow a friend’s or relative’s automobile, so it’s crucial to pay attention to whether the person operating the vehicle is the principal driver listed on the insurance policy. If not, make careful to write down the driver’s insurance company and policy number because, even though it’s not his car, some of his own coverage might still be applicable.
The scene of an automobile accident should also be watched out for another kind of person. The question to ask them is on the following page.
2. Can I Obtain a Witness?
You might not be giving passersby much thought after an automobile collision. However, if everyone who was directly engaged in the accident has a different account of what happened, independent witnesses can be very helpful.
In general, witnesses who weren’t participating in the occurrence are more likely to give accurate accounts of it; the number of genuine participants may be smaller (or biased). In a collision, it’s simpler to observe what’s occurring if you’re not in one of the automobiles involved, thus witnesses are typically in a better physical position to describe what happened. The majority of witnesses also have no stake in how things turn out, so they may offer a distinct and impartial viewpoint. Additionally, they can aid in locating trends and accident causes: For instance, your insurance provider needs to know if this is the fourth collision Joe Onlooker has witnessed at a certain crossroads.
Even while many auto collisions are settled amicably, it never hurts to have the information on hand in case things get ugly. Exchange names and contact information with any witnesses before leaving the crash scene in case you or your insurance provider later on requires any supporting documentation.
1. Indicators of a Fraudulent Accident, Report One
It’s helpful to keep in mind that a wreck is called an accident for a reason while we’re feeling tense about it, unless it’s not. Accidents that are staged or caused fraudulently aren’t actually accidents; rather, they can be done so by those who commit the crimes in order to collect money from the victims or the insurance companies.
Although 90% of accidents are genuine mishaps, you should be aware of a few red flags that might point to anything else. Keep an eye out for luxury or older vehicles, damaged vehicles, and slow-moving traffic; frequent lane switching can also be a warning sign. Another reliable sign is how the driver drives: The perpetrators of false accidents frequently act aggressively or threateningly in an effort to coerce the victim into admitting fault.
You should contact your insurance provider and the police right away if you believe you are the victim of a fake accident. Your chances of having your claim settled quickly and fairly increase the more specific information you can offer about the vehicle and the driver.
For a lot more details on auto accidents, insurance, and how to handle them both, see the page after this one.