Car accident insurance claim | A step-by-step guide on what to do after a car crash 2023

If you find yourself in a car accident, there are measures you can take to prioritize safety and legal compliance. To aid in making critical choices post-collision, the Insurance Information Institute recommends the following steps.

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Verify that you are not in any way injured | car accident insurance claim

In the event of injury, dial 911, or request assistance from someone nearby. If the injury is severe, remain still and await emergency personnel, refraining from movement.

Make sure your passengers are well taken care of | car accident insurance claim

If physically able, verify the well-being of your passengers. Should anyone require medical attention, promptly dial emergency services, or solicit the assistance of a passerby.

Safety is your goal | car accident insurance claim

If you can, please relocate to the sidewalk or the side of the road. In case your vehicle is unsafe to operate or poses a risk, you may choose to pull it over to the side. If driving it further is not safe, you can leave it there and proceed to a secure location on foot.

Call 911 | car accident insurance claim

It is imperative to call the police in the event of an accident, regardless of its severity, as it is a legal requirement in some states. The officers will prepare an accident report and document the scene, even if it’s a minor Fender-bender collision. As per the III, if the police are unable to reach the accident spot, they will still prepare a report at the nearest station. Your insurer may ask for a copy of the police report to aid in the claims process.

Wait for help | car accident insurance claim

After turning off your engine, make sure to switch on your hazard lights and use the road flares from your emergency kit to signal other vehicles to reduce their speed. Additionally, it is essential to stay alert of bandit tow trucks, as warned by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Such tow truck drivers are not the ones you have requested and may approach you to offer their help. However, be cautious as it could be a scam. These dishonest individuals may attempt to persuade you to tow your vehicle to dubious facilities, where they can hold it captive and demand an exorbitant sum of money.

Information exchange | car accident insurance claim

Once you have confirmed the safety of yourself and your passengers, the next step is to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver involved in the accident. The III has listed the crucial information that drivers must share with each other after a collision.

  • Contact information and full name
  • Number of the policy and insurance company
  • Number of the license plate and driver’s license
  • Type, color, and model
  • Accident location

As per the III, it is advisable to avoid discussing fault when discussing the accident details with other drivers. The insurance adjuster who evaluates your claim will determine the fault of the drivers involved by analyzing various factors, such as inspecting the damaged vehicles and reviewing other relevant information. Additionally, you and other affected individuals may be required to provide supporting documents like photographs or a police report.

Take photos of the accident | car accident insurance claim

To safeguard yourself, III suggests following these steps:

Identify the responding officers. Obtain the names and badge numbers of all the police officers who arrived at the scene.
Request a copy. Inquire about where you can obtain a copy of the police report. Your insurer may require it when you file a claim for car insurance.
Take pictures. Thoroughly document the incident by taking photos of your vehicle from all angles to demonstrate the extent of the damage. Additionally, consider photographing the license plates of other vehicles involved. Sharing photos with your insurance can support your claim.
List names. Record the names and addresses of all parties involved, including passengers in the other vehicle.
Gather witness information. Collect the names and contact details of any witnesses who can provide an account of the event.
You may keep this accident page in your vehicle to help organize all of your documentation.

Notify your insurance company and begin the claims process | car accident insurance claim

If you have an insurance provider, it is recommended to contact them while you are on the scene or file your claim through their mobile app. This will enable them to provide you with the necessary instructions to process your claim and help you understand the claims process. If your vehicle is damaged, your insurer will arrange for it to be towed directly to a certified body shop.

An accident can leave even the most experienced driver perplexed. Nevertheless, following these steps can help you alleviate any unnecessary anxiety, enabling you to concentrate on your insurance company and expedite the vehicle repair process with ease.

What happens when I file a claim with my insurance company

When you file an auto insurance claim, the insurance company will request the information mentioned above. An adjuster will probably be assigned to evaluate your vehicle and assess the damage, assisting in determining fault and estimating repair expenses.

Your eligibility for reimbursement for repairs or the actual cash value of your vehicle, if it is deemed a total loss, may vary depending on your coverage.

If necessary, notify the DMV

Each state has its own regulations regarding reporting accidents to the DMV, which may include factors such as the extent of damage, injuries sustained, and expenses incurred. To obtain guidelines on how to report an accident, please refer to your local DMV.

Car accident FAQs

What happens if I am involved in an accident that results in me needing insurance?

You can acquire insurance or switch auto insurance providers at any time. Nevertheless, it is not possible to obtain insurance to cover repair expenses after an accident has already occurred.

What should you do after an accident?

To initiate a claim with your insurance, it is recommended that you follow the aforementioned steps. It is noteworthy that even if the fault is yours, the insurance adjuster’s investigation is necessary to establish legal liability. If you possess collision and comprehensive insurance, you might still qualify for repair coverage regardless of who is at fault.

What should you do if an accident happens that isn’t your fault?

Your insurance provider might have to settle your claim, even if the accident was not your fault. In certain regions, if the other driver is held responsible, your insurance provider may have to pay for the repairs. Moreover, in some states, both insurance companies are held responsible irrespective of fault. Therefore, it is advisable to confirm if your state follows a no-fault policy by contacting your insurance provider.

Bear in mind that legal liability can only be established following an inquiry, even if you presume that you are not accountable.

What does an insurance company do to assess vehicle damage?

The insurance companies are responsible for assessing the cost of repairing your vehicle. The reimbursement you receive will be contingent on the coverage you have.

If the expense of fixing your vehicle is excessively high, it may be classified as a total loss. Your policy determines whether you will receive reimbursement for the present market value of your car.

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