Be prepared and stay calm
It’s frightening. Even if it’s just a minor incident, being involved in a car accident is always unexpected and stressful. And while there’s little you can do to avoid that surge in adrenaline or your emotional distress when it happens, there’s a lot you can and should do immediately following a collision. Take a deep breath and then follow these steps:
1. Stay calm
Nobody ever expects an accident, so panic is often the first response when it happens. But remaining calm is key. When nerves are aroused, you may not remember to take all the right and necessary steps for handling the situation properly. Once you’ve composed yourself and you know that you are ok, you’ll be much more equipped to handle the accident properly.
2. Pull over and park
Pulling you car out of traffic is crucial for your safety and the safety of others. Once you’re on the shoulder of the road or safely out of the way, put your hazards on and make sure that everyone is ok. If you have passengers, make sure that they aren’t injured. If anyone does appear to be hurt, even in the slightest way, call 911 immediately because you simply don’t know the extent of the injury (and it’s always better to be safe than sorry).
3. Call the police
If no one is injured and you haven’t called 911 yet, it’s now time to call the police. You’ll want to have a police report when you file your insurance claim and to prevent anything from coming up later from the other party. The police will assess the crash, the damage, and determine the cause of the accident.
4. Exchange information with the other driver
Getting the other driver’s information is a key step to ensuring that you have all the details necessary for your insurance company to process your claim. In addition, it’s a good idea to jot down the exact location of the accident, the condition of the roads, the weather at the time, and all other factors that may have influenced the incident. Get pictures of the damage on your car and the other vehicle if possible and be sure to get the following information from the other driver:
• Driver’s license number
• License plate number
• Contact info: phone, address, email
• Other driver’s insurance policy number, carrier and other details
• Make and model of other vehicle
• Contact information of any witnesses
• Name and badge number of police officer
5. Contact your insurance company
Depending on your provider, you may be able to take care of this via their website or mobile app. Remember to have all the pertinent information ready to make filing your claim faster.
Even the most minor accidents need to be reported to the police and your insurance company. The last thing you need is to have to foot the bill for your repair and possibly the other person’s because you did not follow the right steps.