What to do in an event of an accident

Q: Accidents Will Happen. Then What?

A: Everyone should have car insurance. But that doesn’t mean you know what to do if you are in an accident. Below are some helpful hints and guidelines on how to be prepared from start to finish.

Before the accident

1. Read your policy.

The conditions (located in the back). This information explains what you should do in case of an accident. It should be in the back of the policy. Familiarize your self with the requirements because though compliance may seem like a hassle after an accident, it’s not nearly as much of a hassle as forfeiting your rights because you don’t follow instructions. The declarations (the cover sheet of your policy) page lists the types and dollar limits of your coverage, including short-hand references to any discounts or special provisions you have elected to purchase. It’s a good summary sheet for future reference.

The agreement (everything else).

The insuring agreement explains what your insurer is protecting you against. It includes definitions of terms used in the agreement and explanations of what’s not covered, otherwise known as exclusions. Be sure to make note of the exclusions.

2. Understand your policy

Ignorance is no protection under the law and it certainly isn’t bliss. Keep calling your insurance agent until you understand the answers to your questions. If you can’t get them answered there, you can call your state insurance department. Hopefully, though, you understood all of this before you bought the policy.

3. Keep your insurance information in the car

Numbers to call, some summary information, etc. Most insurance companies send a card for you to keep in your car that has most of the relevant information. Include a pre-printed form allowing you to provide the particulars of any accident, including a sketch of the scene.

At the Scene:

1. Stay at the scene

Stay until police have been and gone. Make sure you have the name of the officers and that they have your version of what happened. Never assume anything about the police report.

Exchange information with the other driver.

Exchange names, addresses, driver’s license and insurance information with the driver of the other car.

After the Accident:

1. Review your policy

Make a list of questions and related information you want to know.

2. Report the accident directly to your insurance company right away.

This may not seem wise or necessary to you. The accident may be minor and you may not want to risk seeing your rates rise. But state laws generally protect you from higher rates unless an accident was your fault.

3. Start handling repairs

It is always a good idea to keep in mind that though the insurance company is paying the money, you should be controlling the repair process. Do not settle for a job that you do not like. If you want the manufacturer’s parts used and not some generic ones, and if your policy does not give your insurer the right to use generic parts (a fine print point in a policy – hopefully you read the fine print!) You may want your mechanic to take a look if he is not the on fixing it to give you an idea of what should be repaired.