Very few lucky people go through their entire driving life without being involved in an accident. The odds are quite simply stacked against us. Driving is nothing more than semi-controlled chaos, and inevitably someone will do something stupid in your presence.
Most accidents will be drivable accidents. This simply means that your car has minor damage, no one is hurt, and you can drive away. Here's what you should do in a drivable accident:
Move out of the Flow of Traffic. When involved in an accident with less than four vehicles, there are no personal injuries and the vehicles are drivable, move all vehicles to a safe area out of the flow of traffic.
Exchange Critical Information. Exchange information with the other drivers involved in the accident. The critical information should include the names, addresses, phone number, vehicle (year, make and model), license plate number, vehicle identification number, state drivers license number, insurance company and policy number. To make this easy on yourself, create accident information cars and keep them in your glove box.
Get names and addresses of passengers. Also get the names of any persons who may have witnessed the accident. It may not seem important in a small fender-bender, but it will be if someone files a false personal injury claim.
Location, location, location. One of the most important pieces of information that is needed for your traffic accident report is the exact location of the accident. Write it down. Also, draw a diagram of the accident scene.
Report the accident to the police. You can report the accident by phone or drive to the nearest Police Station. Don't wait to make your report. Your insurance company will need the accident report number.
Report the accident to your insurer. Some people feel that they should not report minor accidents to their insurance company because their rates will increase. While it is true that the number and size of the claims you make will influence your rates, you don't want to be caught in a lawsuit for personal injury accident that you did not report. These days, it's too high of a risk.
If you're in a non-drivable accident or an accident with personal injuries, call 911 immediately. Tell the 911 operator the location of the accident and the nature of the injuries (to the best of your knowledge). Stay at the scene. The 911 operation will dispatch the necessary help. Call your insurer as soon as possible.
If you're involved in a hit-and-run accident, don't chase the hit-and-run driver. Doing so is a good way to get into another accident, or get killed by a lunatic. Call 911 immediately. Tell the 911 operator that the other driver left the scene. Give the best description possible of the driver, the type of vehicle and license plate number, and the direction the hit and run was traveling. Call your insurer as soon as possible.
As you are likely to be a little rattled after an accident, you may want to print these tips and put them in your glovebox along with your insurance documents.
As I continue to explore the ins and outs of auto insurance, I'm going to touch on some topics you might not have thought about, including the importance of on-time auto insurance payments.