When brakes are squealing and metal is crashing, it can be hard to remember what steps to take at the scene of an accident. There are certain steps that you can take to make the claims process easier and to make sure that everyone is safe. The Insurance Information Institute has a great checklist for what you should do if you're in an accident, and I'll share some of their tips here:
- Move your car out of the flow of traffic, and determine if anyone is injured. If your passengers, or the passengers in the other car are injured, take a moment to assess their injuries and guess at how serious they could be.
- Call the police - be sure to give them your location, the number of cars involved and the severity of any injuries. The dispatchers can then send the appropriate kind of aid to the scene with that information.
- If there are people with a good amount of blood loss, or otherwise severe injuries, try to cover them in blankets or spare coats to keep them warm while help is on the way. If someone is losing blood or starting to shiver, keeping them warm is important in case they go into shock.
- Try to preserve the scene of the accident. One of the rules in your insurance policy is to try to protect your belongings from further damage after a claim, so set up flares, call a tow truck, move out of the way of traffic and try to protect your car from any further damages.
- Find out where you can get a copy of the police or accident report. Often times a claims adjuster needs a copy of the documents from the accident to work through the claim, and knowing where you can get that can move the claims process along a bit more quickly.
- Have your car towed to a repair shop if you can't safely drive it. Remember, though, that your insurance company will want to see the car and its damage before repairs are started, so don't order or authorize work until you speak with your agent or your insurance company. But getting it to a repair shop is always a good idea.
- Take copious notes. With the adrenaline rush and chaos after an accident, it's harder to recall details and facts about the accident. And to make sure that the claim is handled fairly and appropriate, make sure you get this information before you leave the scene:
- Of course, there's always the car without a driver that you can hit - in a parking lot, sideswiped on a narrow street or accidentally backing out of a driveway. if you can, try to locate the driver or owner of the car. If that's not possible, tuck a note under the windshield wiper with your name, address and phone number so that the owner of the damaged car can reach you should the want to file a claim. Not only is it important for their insurance to have your contact information, but it's also just good manners.
Hopefully this tips serve as a good reminder for what to do if you're in an accident. Of course, you can always call us and we can advise you as to what information you need, and what steps to take. Have a great weekend, and stay safe on the roads!