By Alice Yao | Updated June 18th, 2020
As a driver, the worst moment has to be that instant right after you got into a car accident.
It is perfectly normal to feel confused, distraught and anxious right after a collision.
Below is an excellent guide to help you through the challenging moments following minor auto accidents without injury.
It is highly recommended to keep an accident guide handy just in case you find yourself needing to reference the steps. It could even come in useful in a situation where you are riding in your friend’s car when an accident happens or when you witness an accident and try to help those involved.
Step 1: Pull over to a safe spot
If you happen to get into a minor car accident on the road or freeway, make sure you pull over to a safe spot first. Remaining on the road or other unsafe spots could result in further damage to you and other cars.
If you are unable to move your car and it's unsafe to remain with your car, walk to a safe location such as behind a road barrier and wait for help.
Step 2: Report the accident to police
Once you are in a safe location, contact the police right away to report the accident.
The dispatcher on the phone will inform you if a police officer is en route to the accident scene and provide you with an estimated arrival time of the officer.
While waiting for the police to arrive, you may approach the driver or passengers of the other car. However, always refrain from apologizing or discussing any accident details with them.
Step 3: Take photos of all the cars involved
If you are in a safe location and physically able, use your phone to take as many photos as you can of all the cars involved. In particular, focus on the damaged areas of the cars. It is also helpful to take a clear picture of license plates of the other car(s).
Step 4: Look for witness(es)
If there are pedestrians or other drivers nearby who happened to witness the accident, inquire if they would be willing to provide their name and contact information to you.
A statement from independent witnesses can come in very handy in certain situations.
Step 5: Obtain documents from police
After the police officer arrives, he or she will gather all the information needed for a collision report, including your account of how the accident happened. The officer will then hand you a document known as the "Exchange of Information." This document contains information of all vehicles, and drivers involved in the accident, necessary to file a complete insurance claim.
We encourage you to take a picture of this document, for safekeeping purposes.
Step 5a: Obtain documents from the other driver(s)
In the scenario where the police does not respond to the accident scene, remember to obtain information from the other driver directly, including their name, contact information, and insurance information. The easiest way is to snap a picture of their driver’s license, car registration, and insurance card.
Step 6: Call for towing service
If your car is not safe to drive, it will have to be towed. The police can call a tow truck on your behalf but if you have an emergency roadside assistance membership such as AAA or Allstate Motor Club, you can call for towing service directly using your membership.
Remember, you will need to provide your tow truck driver a destination for your car, either an auto body shop or back home. If you are not able to decide right away, your tow truck driver can also tow it back to their tow yard in the meantime.
Note that most tow yards do charge a storage fee while your car is stored in their premise.
Keep in mind if you did not go through a roadside assistance membership or the police called for a tow truck on your behalf, you will be responsible for the towing cost. If you carry Collision coverage on your auto policy, this towing cost will most likely be covered under your Collision coverage.
Step 7: Contact your insurance agent
As soon as you are able, call your insurance agent to report the incident. Forward all of the information obtained through above steps including pictures of documents, and your agent will be able to file a claim and guide you through the claim process.
By Alice Yao |