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What to Do After a Car Accident

Car accidents can shake up the most seasoned drivers. Having a clear understanding of what to do after an accident can help you stay calm in a stressful situation.

1. Safety first

First and foremost, check if you have any injuries. Then, if you’re able to do so, check on your passengers and others involved in the accident. Call 911 to report the accident and request an ambulance if there are any injuries that require medical attention. If your injuries are serious, try not to move while you wait for emergency services. If you’re unable to call 911, request assistance from a passenger or bystander.

If you can, move your car to safety, turn it off and leave your hazard lights on. If you’re unable to move your car, set up road flares or reflective triangles, then move yourself to a safe area. Do not leave the scene of the car accident.

2. Engaging with other parties

Take a look around and see if there are any witnesses to the accident still on the scene. Ask them if they’re willing to provide the police with a witness statement or if they’re willing to give you their contact information.

Try to limit your interactions to informational exchanges only. Avoid discussions of liability or insurance coverages.

Once the police arrive they’ll likely ask for your name, address, phone number and insurance information. Your statement to the police should stick to the facts of the car accident as you know them. Avoid assigning blame for the accident. Be sure to give them the information on all other parties involved.

You’ll want to ask the officer for the following information:

  • Officer’s name and badge number.
  • Police report number and a copy of the police report. You may need to contact the police station and request a copy of the report.

If the police aren’t dispatched to the scene, you should be able to file a report at the station. Good documentation and notes on the accident will assist the police in writing a detailed and thorough report.

If police are not on the scene, make sure to get the following information from all drivers and passengers involved:

  • Names, addresses and phone numbers.
  • Insurance companies and policy numbers.
  • If willing – grab their dates of birth and license numbers as well.

3. Document the incident

Once it’s safe and you’re able to do so, start documenting the accident while you wait for emergency services to arrive. Please try to get the following:

  • Photographs of your location and the accident scene from as many angles as you’re able.
  • Photographs of the make and model of all cars involved in the accident.
  • Photo evidence of the damage to your car and other cars involved in the accident. Try to include the license plates of other cars.
  • If you don’t have a phone, take notes. It may help if you have to describe the accident to emergency services, insurance companies and health care professionals, or if you’re asked to draw a diagram. Even if you do have a phone, it may help to jot down notes to keep the timeline and facts of the accident straight.

4. Contact insurance

Regardless of the circumstances of the accident, you should still report it to your insurance company. Remember, reporting the accident and filing a claim are two different things. If you open a car insurance claim, you’ll be assigned a claims professional. You can discuss your accident and coverages in detail with your claims professional, including coordinating roadside assistance and the repair process.

If you’re not at fault and want to file a claim through the other driver’s insurance company, you should still report the accident to your insurance carrier. Your carrier will be able to assist you quicker should you run into problems filing through the other party’s carrier.

If the damage is minor and there are no injuries, you and the other driver may decide not to file a car insurance claim or call the police. However, you should still notify your insurance carrier. This will help if you or the other party decide to file a claim at a later date.

5. Vehicle repair process

The repair process typically starts with an inspection. Insurance carriers usually handle it in two ways:

  • If the damage is minor, you can have your vehicle appraised at your preferred auto body shop and send a repair estimate to your insurance company. Or your insurance company may opt for desk appraisal where an estimate is created based on photos.
  • If the damage is severe, your carrier will likely send out an appraiser to inspect your car and provide an appraisal to you or your preferred auto body shop.

If you don’t have a preferred auto body shop, your carrier may provide you with a list of shops they work with in your area.

A few other things to consider:

  • Supplement requests: It’s difficult to know the full extent of the damage to your car before repairs start, so it’s common for the auto body shop to find additional damage once repairs begin. When this happens, they’ll contact the appraiser to reinspect your car and write a supplemental appraisal.
  • Car rentals: Your policy may cover the cost of a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. Your claims representative will be able to discuss your options in detail. 

Conclusion

No matter the situation, no one expects to get into a car accident. Being prepared can reduce your stress and reduce the risk of accidents. Here are some tips to help you out:

Car accidents can induce stress and anxiety. Understanding how to navigate the aftermath can bring peace of mind and help you get back on the road as quickly as possible. File a claim by calling Amica at 800-242-6422, reporting your claim online or visiting our Claim Center.

Here are some other common topics associated with auto accidents:

Your policy may include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. These coverages are typically broken into three parts – uninsured motorist bodily injury, uninsured motorist property damage, and underinsured motorist coverage. Not all states require these coverages, so it’s important to understand what your policy covers.

You may not notice you’re injured right away. Your claims professional may advise you to schedule an appointment with your health care professional as soon as possible. Documentation of any health problems related to the accident is important for injury claims.

The phrase “insurance follows the car” comes into play here. If you’ve given someone permission to drive your car, then you’re covered if they’re in an accident. Your claims professional can go over any state-specific conditions.

There are several factors beyond fault that dictate premium increases. Your claim history, the severity of your claims and your location can all weigh in on rate increases. It’s best to discuss this with your claims or customer service professional.

Your Policy, Policy Declarations or Amended Declarations in effect on the date of loss is the primary source of reference for your coverage, coverage limits and deductible amounts.
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This content may contain helpful tips, explanation and advice. Your use of this information is voluntary and may not be effective in every circumstance. Amica encourages you to use good judgement and put safety first.
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