Knowing what to do in an auto accident situation can be tough. You’re left wondering whose fault it was, if anyone’s hurt, how much this will cost, and whether you need to call the police (Hint: You do!).
Take this scenario, for example:
You’re driving down the highway at a normal speed, but as you put on your left blinker to change lanes and pass someone, a speeding truck who had been in your blind spot barrels forth. This sends you swerving back into the right lane. For a moment, you lose control and end up veering into another vehicle.
By the time the scene is over, you and two other cars are halfway on and halfway off the highway. What now!?
Actions to Take After a Car Accident
The first thing to do in these situations is to get to safety. Pull your car completely off the highway and make sure that others do too. Flip on your hazard lights check yourself and any other passengers for potential injuries. At this point, call an ambulance if you need to. Also, call the police. Police need to be notified whenever there is an accident of any kind.
You’ll also want to cover all your bases for legal and insurance reasons by collecting a wealth of information from the accident scene. Speak to the other drivers and passengers and collect all of the information you can think of, including Insurance information. You’ll need the other driver’s insurance company name and policy number. Take photographs of everything you can.
Handling Insurance and Filing Your Claim
At the scene of the accident, you’ll need to call the police, an ambulance if needed, and your insurance agency. This last call is extremely important. Your insurance agent will be able to start the claims process as soon as possible.
On your end, you’ll have to drive your car into an auto body shop to get an estimate (or you may need to have your vehicle towed there). If you can’t drive your car, ask your insurance agent about rental car insurance. If you have it, your agent can connect you with a paid-for temporary vehicle while yours is being repaired.
You’ll have a few options when it comes to repairs. Certain auto shops who have connections with your insurance company can provide pre-approved repairs for fast fixes. But keep in mind that other insurance companies will want to write their own estimates. After, you can take your car to any shop you like.
Finally, another common option is to find an auto body shop you like, get an estimate, and take the estimate to your insurance company. They may make adjustments before approving your repairs and allowing you to move forward.
If your car is severely damaged, your insurance agency may decide to deem it “totaled” and help you replace it instead of paying for repairs. In this case, they’ll give you a check for the current value of your car minus the deductible.
Note: Ask your insurance agency if you have optional coverage options as well. This may include GAP or loan/lease coverage or “new car replacement coverage.”
Stay Safe, Be Smart
Ensuring yours and others’ safety after a serious car accident should be your primary concern. Once that’s been accomplished, your goal should be to efficiently file a claim and use your (hopefully excellent) insurance policy to retrieve your fixed vehicle.
If you’re not sure whether your insurance policy is up to the challenge, speak to an agent at Patriot Insurance today to learn about your options.