Do you know what to do after an automobile accident? You should. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.), thousands of people are involved in a traffic collision each year. If you happen to be one of the unlucky ones, here are five tips on what to do:
Keep your cool. It’s only natural to want to blow your stack when someone damages your vehicle. After all, next to your house, it’s probably the most expensive thing you own. However, it’s important to remain calm. Depending of how serious your accident is, you may need to make life changing decisions that will affect another person’s life. If someone is injured, you may have to administer CPR. At the very least, you will need to be able to call 911 or the police and provide them with coherent details about another parties condition or even your own! So, be cool. Remember, your car is just a thing and it can be replaced – a life can’t.
Exchange pertinent information. Be sure to collect contact information from the other party involved in the accident. Unlike what you might believe, even if the police take a report, it could be weeks before it is released to the public. And, the public includes the insurance company and you. As a result, the information needed to complete a claim may be delayed which could postpone the repair of your vehicle and cost you money. So, remember to ask the other party for the following information after an accident: first and last name, address, phone number, driver’s license number along with their insurance company and policy number. You will also want to be sure he or she is the owner of the vehicle they are driving and write details down about the actual vehicle. Yes, the vehicle! Try to jot down it’s color, make and style as well as the plate number. As we all know, everyone is not honest. By doing this last step, you’ll ensure that the other party reports the right vehicle being involved in the loss which could avoid complications in your claim and even prevent fraud.
Take Photos. Right after a collision, be prepared to take photos. You can do this by always carrying a disposable camera in your glove compartment or, for the ladies, in your purse. If you take photos of the damages to each vehicle, it can ensure that the proper payments are made for the correct repairs. It can also prevent someone from making a bogus injury claim. If you have documentation to show that the collision between you and the other party was just a tap and the other person is claiming a broken arm, your insurance company can have the power to deny this person’s injury claim. Otherwise, the other party may have time to alter their vehicle to support the type of loss they want to make. For the same reason, if it is safe, you want to take photos of the angle and position of each vehicle after the accident along with relevant scene photos. By doing so, you will document exactly what happened in your accident which can clear up any confusion about who is at fault or not at fault. Nevertheless, all you need to remember when it comes to taking photos is the popular quote – a picture is worth a thousand words. Make sure your words tell the story you want your insurance carrier to hear.
Call your insurance company. Even if you are not at fault, you should always report the accident to your insurance carrier. Most automobile policies have a clause in them requiring you to report any accident you are involved in. So, if you don’t report your accident, you could be violating this clause which may lead to the non-payment of your claim when you finally decide to report it. Plus, reporting an accident, does not necessary lead to the increase of your rates. Of course, this idea is the main reason why people don’t want to call their insurance company. It is important to know that each insurance company has different criteria they use to determine if a policy holder’s rates should be increased or not. So, one at-fault accident may not lead to an increase in your premium. Regardless, reporting your accident will act as a safety guard in the long run. An insurance professional will be able to direct you on the correct steps to take after an accident which will help you get the best outcome to your loss.
Follow directions. This final step may make your chuckle. However, it’s important to follow what your insurance professional tells you after an accident. If you are asked to get three estimates and don’t, you won’t get paid for the vehicle repairs. If you are told to complete a form in order to put in a medical claim, if you don’t, your doctor may not get paid. So, follow what you are told by your insurance professional. This person is on your side and wants to make sure you become whole again.
Having an accident is an event within itself, so what you do afterwards can make it a catastrophic or uneventful one. It’s up to you how you want life to go after your accident. However, if you keep these five steps in mind, you can quickly get back to life the way you knew it before your accident.