No one expects to get into an auto accident on their daily commute, but unfortunately, accidents do happen. In fact, there are an average of six million car accidents in the U.S. each year.
An unexpected collision can leave even the most experienced drivers disoriented and frazzled. While emotions may be running high, it’s essential to keep a level head and follow the necessary protocols.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, adhering to the following steps at the scene of an accident will help to ensure your safety and make the claims process more straightforward with your insurance provider.
1. Safety First
Immediately after a crash, your first step should be determining whether you or any of your passengers have suffered injuries. If someone is hurt, contact emergency services right away or ask a bystander for help.
If you can, pull your car to the side of the road and put on your hazard lights. If you are unable to move your vehicle, get yourself and passengers to the side of the road or a sidewalk a safe distance from the wreck.
2. Call 911
It may not seem necessary, but you should always contact the police or highway patrol after a car accident – even if it’s just a minor fender bender. The responding officers will create a police report for the incident and document details of the scene. An accident report will be necessary when filing your insurance claim.
If police are unable to come to the scene, you should go to your local police station as soon as possible to file an accident report. This will come in handy if you experience any injuries after the fact or there is more damage to your vehicle than you initially thought.
3. Collect information
While you don’t want to discuss the details too much with the other party in your accident, you will need to exchange some information. Be sure to record their full name, contact information, insurance information, the make and model of their vehicle and license plate number.
If possible, take photos of the scene to help support your insurance claim later on. Never take responsibility for an accident – leave that to the insurance adjuster after you file the claim.
4. Notify your insurance company
You’ll want to contact your insurance provider as soon as you can do so. You may even call them at the scene of the accident. Waiting any longer could muddy the details of the incident.
You should provide them with the police report, witness statements and any photos of the scene. Your provider will then let you know the next steps for completing the process.
Car accidents are upsetting experiences, but don’t let shock prevent you from taking the appropriate actions. Following these steps after an accident will ensure you and your car are protected.