Research shows there are an average of 10 million vehicle accidents in the United States annually. They range from major accidents to small fender benders. In the event a car accident it is important to know what the proper steps to follow. Individuals who know how to react in severe accidents can help save their own lives, the lives of passengers and the lives of people in other vehicles involved. This may also help reduce insurance liabilities in some cases.
The following steps are helpful to remember.
1. Survey the damage. After the accident occurs, pull the vehicle to the side of the road. Check to see if anyone involved is injured and survey the vehicle’s damage.
2. Call for help. Whether the accident is small or large, law enforcement should be notified and it’s important to file a police report for the accident. A report will be useful if the other party tries to sue for damage and not having a report on file could be a problem. Be sure to write down the names and badge numbers of officers who respond so it will be easy to contact them if needed. Before they leave, politely ask how to obtain a copy of the report. Also, some people may be injured and not realize it. If there are injuries, law enforcement will call for medical help.
3. Write down plenty of information. Gather the names and phone numbers of everyone involved in the accident. If there are witnesses, ask for their information as well. Ask any other drivers involved to see their ID cards or vehicle registration. Be sure to write down license plate numbers of any cars involved. Take pictures of license plates and any damage to all vehicles involved. Make a note of the time, current road conditions, visibility and weather. There are smart phone apps for documenting this information as well. Stick to the facts when talking with any other involved parties or witnesses and do not talk about amounts of insurance coverage with anyone.
4. Start the claims process. As soon as the previous steps have been completed, call an agent immediately. It is important to start the claims process as quickly as possible. It is easier to forget information when waiting longer to start it. There are convenient mobile apps provided by most insurance companies now that make the claims process easy to start and track. They provide insurance information, tips and a platform to upload photos of the scene. There are also options for scheduling appraisals and finding rental cars if needed. With some apps, there are more high-tech features that allow users to recreate the accident scene and much more. All details should be as accurate and thorough as possible. When unsure about something, be sure to call an agent. Insurers want the claims process to be as easy as possible for policyholders. Start a file of all the claim notes and documents.
After the claim has been filed, be sure to check its status with an agent frequently. If there are any issues, the agent or adjuster will be in contact. For answers to questions or to learn more about available services or apps, discuss with your agent.
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