Car accidents are scary situations, especially when they involve passengers or other drivers. They could result in injuries, property damage and a lot of stress.
Your car insurance can be a resource following a car accident. It might help you repair damage, settle lawsuits and compensate others involved.
So, when an accident happens, what can you do to ensure your insurance provides the best coverage? Keep these tips in mind to make the accident claims process simpler.
1. Never Flee the Scene of an Accident
If you have an accident, you have to take responsibility for your part in it, even if you are the victim. Never leave the scene of the accident under any circumstances. Leaving the scene is illegal, and in most cases it may come with hit-and-run charges.
The only movement to make following an accident is to move your vehicle out of the way of traffic patterns. However, never move the vehicle without signaling your intention to other affected parties.
2. Move the Vehicle if You Can
The authorities usually recommend that drivers move damaged vehicles out of the road. This helps ease congestion, and can reduce the risk of chain reaction collisions.
If you can operate your car safely, attempt to pull to the side of the road or into a nearby parking lot. Do not try to drive the vehicle if you suspect engine damage, see or smell gas or smoke, or cannot steer. Once you stop for good, arm the emergency brake, engage the emergency flashers, and turn off the engine.
3. Check for Injuries
Accident injuries might bring your personal injury, medical or liability coverage into play.
As soon as an accident occurs, check for injuries. Often, following an accident, victims may experience an adrenaline rush, similar to shock. This may impact some people’s ability to feel pain. Therefore, survey your full body for visible injuries. Do the same for passengers.
If you feel you can safely exit your vehicle, do so. However, if you feel pain or cannot move, stay in the vehicle. Call for help, either verbally or using a mobile device.
Sometimes, accidents may exacerbate existing injuries or conditions. Likewise, some injuries may take time to manifest. Make sure you note any and all injuries, however minor, in an accident report. Keep an eye on yourself in the days following an accident. If you decide to seek treatment, you might have to tell your auto insurer.
4. Call the Authorities
Immediately call all necessary authorities. Dialing 9-1-1 will usually dispatch police, ambulance and fire services to your location. Cooperate with the authorities, follow their instructions and be honest on accident reports.
Most insurance companies require drivers to file an accident report after an accident. Reports help the insurer to assign fault and appraise damages following a accident. They help make sure you get the right protection under your policy.
5. Talk to Other Victims in the Accident
Cooperation is key whenever you engage with other drivers involved in the accident. Never become argumentative or accusatory towards the other driver. If that person becomes confrontational, don’t react negatively.
Work together following an accident. Talk to the other driver, and exchange contact and insurance information. Neither you nor the other driver should admit blame for the accident outright. This might impact an insurance company’s ability to determine fault in the case. Explain your side of the story to the authorities for their accident report.
6. Call Your Insurance Company
Most insurance companies recommend that you contact them immediately following an accident. Companies usually operate 24-hour reporting services for you to begin to file a claim.
The claims provider will likely tell you what information the insurer needs to honor your claim. You often have to gather evidence to help substantiate your claim. This may include taking photos, filing accident reports or gathering witness statements. Find out how you can submit evidence to your insurance company.
Your insurance company will likely dispatch an appraiser to evaluate the vehicle's damage. Make sure your insurance company knows where it can locate the vehicle for the appraisal.
7. Determine What to do With Your Car
If you can still drive your vehicle following an accident, most you might be able to take the car home. However, don’t attempt to drive a severely damaged vehicle as this may exacerbate damage. Request a towing service if necessary.
Keep in mind, your insurer or the policy may not allow you to drive the car until after the insurance appraiser has surveyed the damages.
In the coming days, weeks and months, you will have to work closely with your insurance company. Your company can help you submit evidence for your claim, and work through the legal communication regarding you and other victims in the accident. Keep in contact with your insurer until they officially close your insurance claim.
We’ve got you covered. Bouchard Insurance can help you get a fast, free Tampa auto insurance quote right now. Call us at 800.966.6481 for more information.