Still, as dizzying, chaotic, and unsettling as an accident can be, it’s important to stay calm and to follow a few basic steps, to protect you, your car, and anyone else involved.
1. Ensure the safety of all parties and call 911 if necessary. Contrary to what you might think, it’s not necessary to call the police for every accident, especially if no one is hurt and there is very little damage to the vehicles.
2. Get off the road. Not only is staying on the road dangerous (you can’t predict or control the surrounding traffic), it is also an inconvenience to other drivers. If your car runs, move it to a secure location before taking down information.
3. Don’t say more than is necessary. You have two priorities in an accident: ensure the safety of everyone involved, and recording insurance information. Of course, you will want to be courteous to the other driver, but be careful how much you say — simply saying, “I’m sorry,” for example might be enough to put you at fault and could be used against you in court.
4. Obtain insurance information. Most college students are unfamiliar with post-accident protocol and are unaware of what to ask for.
Here’s what you will need from the other driver:
- Names of all involved
- Phone number
- E-mail address
- Make, model, and year of their car
- License plate number
- Insurance carrierInsurance policy number
Also be sure to get the following information from the police officer, if the authorities are involved:
- Badge or ID number
- Phone number
- Police report number
5. Take pictures, if possible. This should be self-explanatory. You will want to snap photos of the damage to your vehicle, as well as to the other driver’s vehicle, the location of the accident, and everyone involved.
6. File a claim. Most insurance claims departments are open 24/7, so don’t hesitate to call as soon as you can after the accident. Once you have filed the claim, your insurance company will contact you for an account of the accident. From here, depending on the details, the insurance companies will take care of the rest, and your premium may or may not increase. Drive safe!
This is a guest post by Susan Wells. Susan is from insurance quotes, she writes on topics including health/car/life insurance, mortgage, real estate.