Today, I will spell out in black and white what you need to do in the event of an auto accident – whether it is your fault or not. There are over 18,000 car accidents in the United States every day, and should you become part of that statistic, you need to know what to do. I’m not talking down to you here – most accidents happen to young people or people that have never had one before. The people who are constantly running into stuff know what to do. This post is for the amateurs.
1. Check to make sure everyone is ok. This is always the first thing. Yes, we all love our cars, but we are all of the family of Man. Check on your fellow humans first. If everyone is ok, proceed on to the following steps.
2. Stay Calm. Yes, I know you love your car. I know that we spend lots of time in our cars, some of us give them names, and some people even wash their cars more than quarterly. Still, it is just a thing, and things can be replaced or repaired. You do have insurance, right? Then good, no worries. If you don’t have insurance and are reading this article, things just got real for you.
3. Move out of Traffic. If both cars are driveable, move them out of traffic. Take a couple of photos first if you need to, but move out of traffic. Notice how I said that 3 times?
4. Exchange information. Get the basics; driver’s name, policy number, insurance company phone number. Use your phone to take photos of all of these things – a picture of the ID card should suffice. DON’T let anyone else gather this for you, unless you are on a stretcher. The police may gather the info, but often they gather it wrong, or miswrite the info. Get it yourself so you know you are taken care of. I speak from experience.
5. Take photos of obstructions to vision. If there is something (a tree, bush, car or house) that obscured vision and may have contributed to the accident, take a photo of it as well.
6. If your car is undriveable, call for a tow. You may have to pay up front and be reimbursed, or your insurance company can send someone out if you have towing coverage (which you should – it’s super cheap).
7. Make the phone call. Do it right then. Call the at fault party’s insurance company and get the ball rolling. If in doubt, call both insurance companies. There are people with false ID cards, too, and you need to establish that before the police leave – or call the police if they haven’t come up to that point.
8. Decide what body shop you want to work on your car. Yes, you can go anywhere you want. Be aware, however, that the insurance company only guarantees the repair if done at one of their approved shops.
An auto accident doesn’t have to be the end of the world – yes, it can make for a bad day, but if you have the right kind of coverage, it will become a minor inconvenience. The time to know you have the right coverage is well before you have a collision. I will just put this out there – insurance companies have been selling you on the “cheapest” coverage and savings for a very long time. Sometimes, though, you should set aside minor cost considerations until you look at how it’s covered – sure, if you are paying less with good coverage, hop on it. Often, though, people look past the sort of coverage they actually have on their insurance policy to focus on the price. Then, when they have a car accident and their insurance doesn’t cover them as they thought it would, they cry foul. Consult with someone like us, and see what you are really paying for before you need it.