What To Do If You’re In A Collision
Auto accidents can be stressful and overwhelming, but knowing how to handle them ahead of time can take some of the tension out and get you past this unpleasant experience quicker. Nobody leaves their house planning to have an accident, but driving comes with risks, and being prepared can lessen some of them. When you know how to handle an auto accident, you can increase the chances that events following the accident will go more smoothly for you. Managing a car accident involves exchanging information to documentation, and filing a claim involves many moving parts.
There are a few ways you can increase how well positioned you are to deal with an auto accident. First, it’s essential to understand what your car insurance policy will cover in an accident. The best time to assess your coverage is before an accident occurs. Otherwise, you can open yourself up to financial risk by being underinsured.
Next, always keep a physical copy of your insurance verification, such as an ID card, in the vehicle but consider keeping a backup in your phone or wallet. Solely relying on a digital version of your ID card could create challenges if your phone is damaged during the accident or if you forgot it at home. Also, keeping pen and paper and a camera (this can be your phone camera) on hand might also help you be prepared, especially when you want to document the accident scene.
Call The Police
Assess for safety within your vehicle and any other cars involved in the accident. If anyone has serious injuries, call an ambulance immediately. Still, even when injuries are minor or nonexistent, it’s often recommended to call the police and report the accident. Not only is this the best way to help people on-site, but it can help with the evidence portion of your insurance agent’s investigation if there is a claim filed.
Call Your Insurance Company
Your insurance provider will want to know about the accident as soon as possible. This is especially important if you might be at fault for the accident or expect you or the other affected driver(s) to file a claim against your insurance. In these situations, quick reporting of the accident may help the company process these claims sooner.
Gather and Exchange Information
Exchanging personal contact and insurance information is a standard requirement following auto accidents. All involved drivers who were impacted by the accident should exchange these information items. Beyond that, it can be wise to document the accident scene. Doing so can make it easier for the insurance investigator later. If you have a camera on you, try to take photos of the area, including the vehicle’s positions, the street, and any nearby intersections, lights, or stop signs.
Determine If You Need To File a Claim
Deciding whether or not to file a claim can be tricky in some situations but is much clearer in others. If you are the only one involved in an accident and the total damages would cost less to repair than your deductible, or you do not have comprehensive and collision coverage to help repair your car, then filing a claim may not be an option. On the other hand, if the damages are severe or involve multiple parties, contacting your insurer and considering a claim becomes more critical.
Keep Track Of Repairs And Medical Bills
Maintaining a consistent list of all the related vehicle repairs and medical bills can be helpful when tracking costs. You might not have much control over where the insurer chooses to send you or the vehicle. However, you can ensure that everything that is supposed to be covered is. It’s often wise to keep both a physical and digital file of these records so that you can always find them when you need them.
Shop For Lower Insurance Rates
Auto insurance rates may increase after an accident, even if you aren’t at fault. These changes may not go into effect until your policy renewal and the claim is completed. One way to counter this cost increase is to shop around for lower rates on similar coverages from other companies. This can be done manually by getting estimates directly from multiple providers. You can speak to an independent agent or use a car insurance comparison website to gather numerous quotes at once. Other than switching companies, there may be ways to lower your rates with your current provider. Many insurers offer discounts, and some even have accident forgiveness programs. If you decide to switch providers, be aware that you’ll need to close or complete any claims on your current policy first.
The Bottom Line
Auto accidents are stressful and often expensive, but they aren’t uncommon. While safe driving can help reduce the risk of an accident, being prepared to deal with one can help reduce the stress by getting you through it quicker and with less hassle. By taking a little bit of time to stock the essential items in your car and outline a plan of action, you can better prepare yourself for the difficulties of an auto accident. This doesn’t mean you’re planning to have an accident, any more than wearing a seatbelt does. It simply means you’re taking the necessary steps to deal with a risky situation. Understanding these risks can help give insight into the costs of auto insurance and the reason for car insurance laws.
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