An unexpected vehicle collision, even if it is a fender bender, is every motorist’s nightmare. Although you do your best to drive responsibly and defensively, it still helps to know what to do just in case you end up in a collision.
In such stressful situations, you should be prepared, whether or not you are at fault. Here’s what you should do, including how to prepare to deal with first responders, injuries, other drivers, insurance companies and collision repair centres.
Remain calm at all times
The first response in an unexpected collision is always shock and, sometimes, disorientation. The important thing to remember in such situations is to remain calm. Take several deep breaths and bring your vehicle to a complete stop. Leave the hazard lights on and exit the vehicle once it’s safe to do so. If you are not injured, you should warn any other approaching motorists of the situation.
Check for injuries
Make sure everyone is okay. Assess if you and/or your passengers have sustained any injury, visible or internal. If anyone reports serious injury or discomfort, call an ambulance and the police right away and give an accurate description of the crash location, number of the injured passengers and severity of the injuries.
Assess the damage
Check the damage on your vehicle and the other vehicle(s) involved. Depending on the severity of the collision, you should call 911 and give complete details about the incident. A collision can have long-term health and financial complications due to incorrect handling of the situation or simply an overlooked detail.
To help facilitate your insurance claim later, document all possible information – photos of the injuries, visible damage and license plates for all vehicles, along with make, colour and model. Exchange names, driver’s license information and insurance details with the other driver(s). If you have a dashboard camera, make sure that the data in the device is secured, so that it could be used in case of dispute.
Interacting with other drivers
Avoid debating who was at fault or admit guilt. Limit your conversation with the other driver(s) to only the details required. If there is a dispute on who’s at fault, you should ask the police officer to mediate. Don’t make a side deal with the other driver to accept or pay cash for the accident instead of filing an insurance claim, even if the other driver offers a significant sum or claims that he/she does not have no auto insurance.
Once you have completed the above steps, move your car (if possible) to a safer spot and away from incoming traffic. If the vehicle is badly damaged, contact the nearest towing service to have it moved to a safer spot, and to the body shop later. Ensure your own personal safety by moving off the road to a sidewalk or a nearby parking lot until the police arrive.
Reporting to the police
Wait for the police to arrive at the site. Never leave the scene of the collision without following the above steps – it’s a crime to do so. Also, ensure that you have received a collision report from the police officer before you leave.
Contact your auto insurer
Notify your auto insurance provider immediately. The claims adjuster assigned to your case will determine your claim and explain to you the next steps. You will be asked to submit basic information and documents to support your claim. How much your insurer covers for the repair depends on how much you are determined to be at-fault for the accident.
Choose a collision repair shop
When choosing what repair shop to take your vehicle, you can ask your insurance company for one of their preferred shops. Collision repair shops work directly with most insurers
Crashes can be very scary and can leave even the most seasoned driver dazed. However, being prepared and knowing what to do if you are involved in a collision can save lives, reduce injuries and make the claims and repair processes simpler and easier.