What to do if you have a car accident.
Car accidents, even just fender benders, are an unfortunate fact of life. We take safety precautions on the road, use seatbelts, keep a safe distance from other vehicles, and maintain our engines and tires. But sometimes, the unexpected happens. It is a stressful event when you’re in a car accident, so being prepared is helpful. If you or someone you know is involved in a car accident, use these tips to stay safe and manage the situation.
What to do after a car accident or collision
Whenever possible, pull over to a safe area. Try to ensure this is a public area where others can see both you and the other driver. If your car is a potential road hazard, you’ll want to move it, even to a sidewalk. Stay calm and use your emergency flashers to alert oncoming cars. If you can’t drive your car, get yourself and any passengers to a safe distance away from the collision. Remember, never leave the scene of an accident.
Be safe and stay calm.
Take the time you need to assess the situation and check on the other passengers in your car. Check for any possible kind of injury. It sounds obvious; however, this can often get overlooked with the adrenaline that comes with an accident. If you or any passengers are injured, call 911 or ask someone else to do so. If you’re seriously injured, try not to move, and wait for emergency personnel. Most importantly, stay calm. You might feel pressured at the scene to make snap decisions, but don’t let that happen.
Call for help.
Whether an accident is a minor fender-bender or a major collision, calling the police is essential. Police officers will fill out an accident report and document the scene. Suppose the police can’t come to the location of the accident. In that case, you can go to the nearest police station and complete a report yourself. When you file a claim with your insurer, they may ask for a copy of the police report to help with the claims process.
If you have determined you can safely talk to the other driver, do so calmly. It is advisable to secure and conceal any valuables before exiting the vehicle. If there is any sign road rage may have played a role in the accident, use extra caution. If you feel unsafe, return to your vehicle, and wait for the police.
While it’s appropriate to engage in small talk while waiting for the police, avoid expressing anger toward the other driver. Don’t blame the accident on yourself or the other driver. It is best to avoid discussion of who is at fault at the scene of an accident. The insurance companies will decide that.
Next, you will want to collect and exchange information with the other driver. Here are the most critical pieces of information you should collect after an accident:
- Full name and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Type, colour and model of vehicle
- Location of accident
Here are a few additional steps you can take to help protect yourself:
- Once the police arrive, get their name and badge number. Ask them where you can obtain a copy of the accident report.
- Take pictures of your vehicle from different angles, showing the damage done to both cars. It might also be a good idea to take a photo of the other car’s license plate. Such images could help support your claim.
- If there were any witnesses to the accident, take down their names and their contact information.
- Keep all this documentation in order, such as a file folder.
Don’t make deals.
Avoid discussing fault when going over the facts with the other driver. When you file an insurance claim, the adjuster reviewing your claim will determine who’s at fault based on all available information related to the accident.
Also, don’t make any side deals with other drivers to accept or pay cash (regardless of the amount) for the accident instead of filing an insurance claim. If the other driver claims they have no auto insurance, do not make a side deal. Refrain from making a ‘handshake’ arrangement at the scene of the accident, as doing so could expose you to significant expenses down the line.
How to make a car insurance claim after an accident
After you have safely dealt with the accident scene and have composed yourself, it’s time to contact your insurance company.
How long to file an insurance claim for a car accident?
In Nova Scotia, you have up to 90 days to file a claim to your car insurance provider. Having said that, it is advised to contact your insurance provider as soon as possible after an accident. This will help expedite the claim process so you can get your vehicle repaired as smoothly and as quickly as possible. If you or any passengers have been injured this will add time to the claim process, while the injuries are assessed.
The Claims Adjuster.
A claims adjuster, who works for your insurance provider, will be assigned to manage your claim. They will investigate what happened, what coverage your insurance policy provides, and determine the best course of action. They will also manage the process of getting your vehicle or home repairs completed to your satisfaction. Be sure to ask clarifying questions about anything you don’t understand. Find out what documents you need to give your insurer. Be sure to know if there are any deadlines for filing and when you can expect to hear back with answers.
Appraising the damage.
Your insurance company, or the other driver’s insurer, will likely want to inspect your vehicle to prepare a damage estimate. If your car is still drivable, you may be asked to visit a collision repair shop affiliated with the insurer. Or they may make use of remote inspection tools such as a smartphone app. A damage appraiser could be assigned to evaluate the damages to your vehicle and provide an estimate for repairs.
Paying for repairs.
After you make a claim and provide all the information the insurer requires, you’ll receive for repairs or replace your car if it’s totalled. It is at this point in the claims process where your insurance policy deductible is considered. The deductible is the amount of the claim that you are responsible for paying. If your claim is approved, the insurance company will pay for expenses above your deductible amount.
An accident can leave even the most seasoned driver frazzled. There is a lot to consider. The most important thing you can do after a car accident is to stay calm. For our Bauld Insurance clients, we are here to help you through the claim process. Visit our web page to learn more about our Claims Support, where you will find even more answers to frequently asked questions about insurance claims.