Whether it’s a fender-bender or a more serious crash, being in a car accident is a truly frightening experience. According to auto insurance industry estimates, the average driver will be involved in 3 – 4 accidents over a typical lifespan of driving. Would you know what to do?
Regardless of the type or severity of your accident, at some point insurance will be involved. The things you do in the aftermath of a crash can have a big impact on how your auto claim will progress. Here are a few helpful tips to keep you safe and help you navigate the insurance claim process.
- Stop immediately, even if the damage seems minor. Remain at the scene of the collision.
- Get out of your vehicle and provide assistance to anyone who is injured.
- Call the police or highway patrol immediately. They can call emergency personnel for you, if needed.
- Protect the accident scene and warn on-coming traffic by setting up flares or putting up cones. For minor accidents, move your car off the road if possible. Take a picture first to document the scene.
- Stay clear of the roadway. This is especially important if you are on a high-speed road like a freeway, or if it is dark. Get as far from moving traffic as you possibly can.
- Do not admit fault. Once the police arrive, give them as much information as you can concerning what occurred. Stick to the facts.
- Write down names and addresses of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident. Include the license plate number, make, model and year of each car involved. You should also note the name of the other driver’s insurance company and drivers license number.
- Write down the names and contact information for any and all witnesses to your accident. You may need this information later.
- Ask the investigating officer for the police report number. This will allow you to request a copy of the police report when it is available. You may be asked to submit it with your claim.
- Note the names and badge numbers of the police and emergency personnel that are assisting with your accident.
- Sketch the accident like you are making a map, showing where vehicles were before and after the crash. Taking photos of the accident site and vehicle damage can also be helpful.
- Do not discuss the accident or sign any documents. Answer only questions asked by police or safety personnel.
- Write down as many details as you can recall about your accident and then call your insurance carrier to report your claim. Their representative will provide information on how to begin the claims process, and what to expect along the way.
- Keep a record of all correspondences that you have regarding your claim, including the date, name and title of the person you talked to, and what was said.
- Keep a record of any expenses you incur as a result of the accident. Depending on your policy, you may be entitled to reimbursement for some of these costs.
- Consider having repairs made at a shop recommended by your insurance carrier. Although you are free to choose your own service location, most carriers have arrangements with specific shops. Your claim (minus any deductible) will be paid directly to the shop, and repairs will be subject to certain guarantees.
It’s important to realize that while a car accident is extremely disruptive to your life, it’s a business process for the insurance companies involved. Depending on the circumstances, they may need to determine who is at fault before your claim can be settled. If an investigation is necessary, your adjuster should keep you informed throughout the process. If you deal with an independent agency, like General Southwest, your agent can provide additional advice and assistance when necessary.
And what if your car is “totaled”? If repair costs will exceed the value of your vehicle, or if it cannot be repaired to a safe condition, your insurance carrier will deem it a total loss. Having your title or loan information readily available when you speak with the adjuster will help expedite your claim.
Accidents Will Happen
We all like to think that by driving defensively and following safety rules, we can avoid being victims of a car crash. But if, despite your caution, you’re involved in an incident, a bit of advance preparation can make things a bit easier.
- Keep a notebook and a pen or pencil in your car. It will be easier to document events and make lists of names and other information you will need.
- Consider purchasing roadside flares or, better yet, an auto emergency kit. Some contain reflective vests, escape tools, and other gear that would be useful if you experience a breakdown or an accident.
- Stash a blanket, some bottled water, and a small first-aid kit in your vehicle. These items are especially beneficial if you frequently travel on rural roads.
As with all emergencies, staying calm in the aftermath of the crash will help keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible.
If you are navigating an auto insurance claim, your General Southwest advisor can help guide you through the process. Contact us at 480-990-1900 with any questions or concerns about your claim.
[Read More]To find claims contact numbers for many of the carriers GSW represents, click HERE.
Tips courtesy of Zywave, Inc. and Safeco Insurance.