Accidents can be a terrifying experience for everyone involved.  Adrenaline takes over when you feel the impact and your mind starts to race around in your head.  Sometimes the rush of emotions and chaos of the moment can prevent you from gathering all the information you need to file a claim.  After all is said and done, you can be left on the side of the road with a shaking knee wondering what your next step should be.  Stay cool and level-headed to make certain you are thinking clearly enough to make the right decisions and capable gather the required information.

What to do at the Scene of the Accident

When a car accident takes place, there are several things you will need to do immediately, while still at the scene of the accident:

Exchange information

All the information on your card and the other person’s insurance card is essential to file a claim immediately.  Make sure when you write it down, you get the name of the driver and their phone number.  Sometimes people have allowed someone else to drive their car.  Don’t assume the person on the insurance card is the person in the driver’s seat.

Call the police

The police are a disinterested third party who is there to collect factual statements and information pertaining to the incident.  The police report is an accurate record of drivers, location and time of the accident.  Every insurance company will ask if a police report has been filed.  The police will gather all information and provide you with a copy of the initial report or the report number.  It is still important for you to gather the information on your own, as the police report takes many days before it is available.

Get out your camera phone

Take pictures!  Pictures are a real-time stamp of what happened and the people involved.  Take pictures of your car and any other vehicle involved (including the license plate).  Photos help to prove the damages at the time of the accident and reveal the cars involved to prevent ‘he said she said’.

Take note of witnesses

Get names and phone numbers for anyone who witnessed the accident.  They will be contacted to assist in determining what happened in the accident.

How to Deal with the Insurance Company

Car accidents need to be reported to the insurance companies in order to receive your claim.  Here is what you need to know about filing a claim and who to call for the money:

Call the insurance company

Contact your insurance company if you are injured or at-fault.  If fault is not clear, or you got in an accident in a parking lot, call your own company.  If the other person was at-fault or you are injured, call their insurance company directly to file to claim.

Keep a log of your conversations

Make sure you keep a call log of your interactions with your agent’s office, the claims office and any meetings you have with an adjuster.  Get names, phone numbers and email addresses.  This is also a good time to stay level-headed.  They are documenting your tone and any negative information about the conversation.

Keep copies of your documents

Retain copies of any supporting documents and correspondence.  You may need them later on if the company did not receive them or they have been misplaced.

Let your insurance company do their job

It is not your responsibility to contact the other party involved and you do not have to speak with them if they call you directly.  If you receive any calls from the other individuals, forward them to your insurance company.

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