It can be hard to think clearly after the shock of a fender-bender, so we offer this protocol for the immediate moments after an accident, and recommend that you carry this checklist with you in your vehicle.
1. Safety first: If it is appropriate and safe to do so, move your vehicle out of the way so other cars can pass. However, do not leave the scene of the accident. Call 911 immediately for medical assistance if anyone is injured and ask for a police officer to come and take a report.
2. Stay calm: Do not panic or become upset. If you have young children in the car, they will take their lead from you. Insurance companies advise that you should not admit fault at the scene of an accident. Be sure that you are polite and calm to everyone involved, including the police officers. Also make sure to get the officer’s name, district and police report number.
3. Gather information: Exchange contact information with others involved in the accident, getting important details like full name, address, phone number & insurance carrier. Almost 15% of all accidents are caused by uninsured drivers so ask to see a current insurance ID card. Also, be sure to write down the year, make, model and license plate number for each vehicle involved. If there are any witnesses involved, gather their contact information as well. It is a good idea to keep a small notebook in your vehicle for this reason.
According to the Insurance Research Council, California Department of Insurance, an estimated 14% of car accidents are caused by uninsured motorists and roughly $860.5 million is the total revenue collected from uninsured motorist tickets, so be sure to ask for insurance ID at the time of an accident.
4. Document the accident: With your cell phone or a disposable camera, take multiple photos of the accident scene and damage to the cars involved. If you observed the driver talking on their cell or texting before the accident, tell your claim adjuster and the police.
5. Report the accident to your insurance company: No matter how minor the accident, a driver may offer to settle with you in cash to avoid increased insurance rates. But, there’s no guarantee you’ll get paid directly, so let your insurer handle the details. For FAQ when in an accident, click here.
6. Retain the following items in your car. In the case of an accident, they will make the process smoother for all parties involved: