In the Wake of a Car Accident
A lot of questions need to be answered after you’ve been in a car accident. Can this be repaired? Will your insurance cover it? How much does towing cost, and what will you do while waiting for repairs to finish? The answers aren’t always clear, but they can be found with a quick response following the incident. Keep these procedures in mind so you know what to do after a car accident, making the recovery quicker and less stressful.
Assessing the Situation
The first thing to address is the safety of everyone involved. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries, and aid the other party if necessary. If possible, move your vehicle out of the road and use cones, warning triangles or flares to alert oncoming drivers.
Next, call the police, even for a minor accident, and document the incident as well as possible, cooperating with officers and other involved parties. Be polite and don’t withhold any information asked of you, but avoid assigning guilt to yourself or others on paper or verbally, even if you believe the accident was your fault.
The information you should obtain includes:
- Names and contact info of drivers, passengers, and witnesses
- Vehicle descriptions and license numbers
- Insurance company info for other drivers
- Location of the accident
- Police officers’ names and badge numbers
- Any relevant photos (e.g. the damage to your vehicle)
Filing a Claim
You can contact your insurance agent and begin the process of filing a claim as soon as you have documentation together at the accident scene. Though it’s likely that the event will leave you shaken, this is still your best opportunity to start relaying relevant information to your insurer. They will tell you what they need for the claim and what you should expect during the process. Because processing the claim can take some time, it’s best to get it started sooner rather than later so that you’ll be able to pay for repairs, towing, etc.
Additionally, the incident will be freshest in your memory at this time—even with documentation, it’s possible that you’ll inadvertently fill in blanks later with misremembered details.
Contacting a Repair Center
It’s a good idea to get in touch with a local auto body repair center at the earliest opportunity, as well, rather than waiting until you visit them in person. That way, questions like “how much does collision repair cost?” can be answered early, and you can begin consultation on what you’ll need to be done to fix the vehicle. Getting an estimate and connecting the repair technicians to your insurance agent aids in processing your claim, too. Additionally, depending on the severity of the accident, your car may or may not still be in a driveable state. Some repair centers can connect you to towing and rental car services, ensuring that you can get your vehicle to the shop and that you’ll be covered for any travel needs within the next few days.
Accidents are naturally stressful for everyone involved, but a calm, collected and rapid response following the incident can mitigate a lot of future stress.