If you have never been in an auto accident before, it can be difficult to know what to do. Like any other disaster or situation in life, the more you know about it ahead of time, the better. Learning the process of events, from talking to the police, filing an insurance claim and getting repairs to your vehicle, can help you make sensible decisions if you are ever involved in an accident in the future. Your Southeastern Insurance agent can answer any questions you might have about what to do if you are involved in an accident.
Step One – Evaluate the Situation
When you are in an accident you need to stop and take time to evaluate the situation. Do you, one of your passengers or anyone else involved in the accident require medical attention for injuries? If it is just a simple accident, medical assistance might not be necessary, but when in doubt you should also call an ambulance when you call for the police.
Step Two – Follow Directions
The police will tell you whether or not you can move the crashed vehicles from the path of moving traffic until help arrives. An investigating officer will speak with all drivers, passengers and witnesses involved. It is important to always tell the truth, even if you think that your answers are embarrassing or might work against you. The police and the auto insurance companies that are involved will find out the truth and it could come back to hurt you in the long run. In fact, if it is determined that you haven’t been truthful, you could be denied coverage in the accident.
Step Three – Exchange Information
Share your information and request the same of everyone involved in the accident. This should include an insurance ID card with a valid coverage date, as well as names and phone numbers. While the police will be investigating the accident, any additional information you can collect from witnesses can make the job of the investigating officer and the auto insurance company that much easier. Also get the name and contact information of the investigating officer for future reference so you can obtain a copy of the report.
Step Four – Take Photos
Most people have cameras built into their phones these days, but if you don’t have a camera phone, you should always carry a single-use camera in the trunk of your car or console in case of an accident. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so if you can take a photo of the accident scene as well as the damage to your vehicle and any other vehicles involved, it can be very helpful in determining who is at-fault in the accident.
Step Five – Call Your Auto Insurance Agent
Once everything is handled at the scene of the accident and all medical issues are addressed, it’s time to call your auto insurance agent to report the accident. As you as you are able, you need to call and file an accident report. You should also call the insurance agency of the other driver involved in the accident. The companies will then begin an investigation to determine which driver was at-fault.
Step Six – Get a Complete Claim File
Once the insurance company does their part of the investigation you will work with an insurance claims adjuster. Make sure to ask for a copy of the complete claim file, including any extra notes, photos or pages, to ensure that nothing important gets lost. Documents get accidentally destroyed all the time and you want to make sure you have the entire file in case any mistakes are made.
Step Seven – Medical Care
If you did not receive medical care at the scene, but discover injuries related to the accident after the fact, you have a right to seek appropriate medical care. Unless you received a discount for using a preferred provider organization in your policy, no one can tell you what medical provider you need to see. However, if you receive any treatment that may seem unnecessary, you may receive a letter stating that medical expenses won’t be covered.
Step Eight – Auto Repairs
You also have the right to choose which auto repair company you use. Check with your auto insurance agent to find out what the procedure is for getting repair bids and what you need to do to get your vehicle repaired and back on the road. If your policy allows for coverage of a rental car during repairs, speak with your agent for information on getting a rental car.
When in doubt, contact your insurance agent at Southeastern Insurance Agency with any questions you might have about your auto insurance policy. If you are in an accident, make sure to contact your agent as soon as possible to file a report.