Being in an accident can be a very frightening event. Being prepared to know how to handle the situation when it occurs will help you deal with the shock of it, as well as ensure you are covered for the loss when it does happen. While accidents will happen to almost every driver, whether their car is parked and unattended, or while they’re driving, knowing these important steps will help you deal with the unfortunate situation.
Safely park your vehicle: If you happen to be driving when the accident occurs, safely pull the vehicle over to the side of the road. If possible, carefully write down the license plate and description of the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident. If you are reporting a hit and run, this information will aid police in locating the driver. In the event of a hit and run it most likely happens when your vehicle is unattended. If you return to your vehicle to find damage, look for clues to help you prove your case, i.e. Security cameras. Make sure you are out of the way of any traffic in the area to prevent the accident from being worse and to protect yourself and all other parties involved.
Assess any Injuries: If someone is injured, take care of their immediate needs and quickly call 911. It is typical to be jittery after such an event so catch your breath too.
Call police: Once you’re safely parked and out of harms way, you should call the police to file a report, especially if another party is involved. It’s important to always have documentation of how the accident happened. NEVER accept an offer from another party to settle the claim without going through insurance or without calling the police. You never know if that person will turn around later to take advantage of you, and without a police report, it’s your word against theirs.
Exchange Information: If involved in an accident with another party, ask them for their information including name, contact information, and insurance company info (which can be found on their auto ID card). Provide the same information to them as well. Also, try to gather information on their car including license plate number, and year, make, and model.
Take pictures/Gather any witness information: If anyone is standing there and offers you their statement, jot down their phone number and name. Your insurance company will want to talk with any witness to the accident. Also, if you can safely do so it’s always helpful to have pictures of the damages to your vehicle as well as the other vehicle. Note where exactly the damage is on all vehicles involved. This will help the insurance company when determining who is at fault in the accident.
Call your insurance company: If you are involved in an accident with an object other than another vehicle, and no one is injured and you feel damage is minor, you may decide to get an estimate for repair before calling your company. However, if someone is injured, there is significant damage to your car, or if there is another vehicle involved/party, it is important to ALWAYS get this in to your insurance company. You never know if the other party will try to claim injury or damage to their vehicle that this accident didn’t cause. Also, it’s important that your insurance company has as much information on the accident as possible in order to assist you with your claim. Police reports can take several days to be ready, so any and all information that you can collect on your own will help expedite the claims process with the insurance company until they get access to the report.
For us, it is very important that our clients understand their policies and coverages. Auto insurance is complicated! If you have the proper coverage, an auto insurance policy can cover most of the situations you would be involved with in a claim, whether the other party has coverage or not. We strive to explain your policy to you as well as we can, but if you ever have any questions, we are always here to answer them. Just one of the many benefits of having an agent!
While we hope you never have to experience an accident, being prepared will help you tackle the unfortunate situation.
If you have questions about your auto insurance, contact George A. Bell & Son. George A. Bell & Son, Inc. is a full service property and casualty, independent insurance agency serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and various other states. Founded in 1880 as Bell Brothers Fire Insurance, we continue to be a family owned agency, with the fifth and sixth generations currently continuing the legacy of what those brothers started. We value ourselves on quality insurance, top notch customer service, and a focus on making sure our clients get the best value for their money.