The collision of 2 automobiles is a scary event, regardless of how fast the vehicles were traveling or how little damage has occurred. Immediately following an car accident, you are likely to experience elevated blood pressure and an overall sense of panic. But once the chaos clears, injuries have been assessed, and everyone involved has been safely moved out of the way, it is time to think about what important tidbits your auto insurance company is going to need from you in order to file a claim.
If you are ever involved in an auto accident, remember these 4 steps to make the claims process run smoother.
Don’t Forget to Take Notes
While the other driver is distracted with their own insurance concerns and locating their registration or insurance card, take the time to jot down some quick notes while the memory of the accident is still fresh in your mind. Take a deep breath before you begin, and then write things down exactly as you remember.
It may also be helpful to draw a diagram or pictures that you can refer back to later, in case you forget any details or need to dispute someone else’s comment about the car accident. Writing down notes immediately following the collision will prevent you from doubting yourself later, or forgetting what happened. Other important information to write down includes the name of the street where the accident occurred, including a nearby street number and cross-street if there is one nearby. Also write down the direction each driver was traveling, and any information from other witnesses as you can.
Take photos of the involved vehicles and the area in which the accident occurred, using your cell phone if necessary. Include the damage to the vehicles, or lack-there-of. As long as it is reasonably safe to do so, try snapping photos of each car at an angle from the wheels, so that one side of the car and either the front or rear is fully visible in the photo. Include close-up photos of any damage, as well as photos of the license plates. All of this will be helpful to your auto insurance company.
Immediately following the accident, request the other driver’s personal information, including their name and address, phone number, the name of their insurance company, and more. Don’t trust their word on this matter; ask to see their driver’s license, insurance, and registration card, and copy the information down directly for yourself to avoid being swindled. Take the time to compare any possible discrepancies.
Report the Accident to Your Auto Insurance Company
No matter how little damage appears to have occurred, always report a car accident to your auto insurance company. Some damages appear minimal at first glance, only to be discovered much worse upon official examination. Even in cases of small damage, claims should be filed because repair costs for something as simple as bumper damage will often exceed a low deductible. Additionally, some minor exterior damages can actually mean more significant and expensive underlying issues since cars are designed to bend and flex during accidents in order to absorb the impact and maximally protect its occupants.