I got into my first car accident this past year. It was not anything serious, there were no injuries and it was a little fender bender. But — I didn’t really know what to do.
In typical fashion, my first instinct was to call my mother (after pulling over, making sure the other car stopped as well and that the driver was okay, of course). Luckily for me, my mother guided me as to what to do, and quickly got off the phone with me once ensuring everything was okay.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, and assuming that everyone is okay, here’s what to do:
Accidents happen. Especially if it is a minor accident in which everyone is okay, there’s no need to freak out. If it’s a bigger accident, of course freaking out is natural, but try to remain as calm as you can.
Call the police
I don’t care if it’s a minor fender bender and you don’t think the cops should get involved – they should. Of course they should be called to ensure that everything is okay; however, that’s not all. When push comes to shove, it’ll be your word versus the other person’s word. You need a third, unbiased party.
Get a police report
“But why do I need a police report when this accident seems pretty clean cut?” I’ll tell you why. It’s because people will start claiming everything and anything to help prove their innocence. You need a report of exactly what happened to ensure that the true actions are available if need be. This report will make life a lot easier for you, and for your insurance company.
Get the other person’s insurance information
This tip seems like common sense, I know, but I had to say it anyway. Take your phone out, and take pictures of the other person’s insurance information. You’re going to want all of the information you can get so your insurance company can get in contact with the other person’s insurance company to figure everything out.
Take pictures of the damage on your car
It can only benefit you to have pictures of the damage your car sustained; you can send it to both insurance companies, you can use it in case of any further need, and so on. Plus, you don’t want the other person complaining that the damage to your car wasn’t as bad as it really was.
Take pictures of the other person’s car
Similar to the reason above, this is also to cover your butt. More often than not (unfortunately) one person claims worse damage than was sustained in actuality. By having pictures of the other person’s car, you can avoid this scenario. Plus, I even know someone who got into an accident and the other person made a claim of driving a different car than the one involved in the accident! Having pictures of the other person’s car gives you proof as to which car was involved and the damage done.
Submit a claim with your insurance company
Do this the day that the accident happens. The claim process can take time; especially if you are putting out money you want to get back, you’re going to want to get right on this. As soon as you can, upload all pictures and as much information as you can to your insurance provider. Make your representatives aware of what happened and how it happened. Additionally, you don’t want to not submit a claim and then, they hear about the accident first from the other party’s insurance company.
Remember car insurance is your friend
Well, it is in this case at least. If hearing the words car insurance still makes you cringe, check out our car insurance cheat sheet to help you out.