Step 1 – Contact the local police immediately after the accident has occurred. It is normal to feel shaken up after an accident but try to stay calm. Report all details of the accident to the police; they will take notes and fill out a police report. Keep this police report in a safe place, as you will send it to the insurance company along with your claim information.
Step 2 – If you have a camera with you, take photos of the other vehicle’s license plate and the area of impact on their vehicle. Take photos of your vehicle, too, and any debris or skid marks on the road or guardrails nearby. These photos are helpful evidence in cases where it’s difficult to determine who’s at fault, such as in accidents involving lane changes.
Step 3 – Exchange information with the other driver involved in the accident. Get the other driver’s name, address and phone number as well their registration, insurance, driver’s license and license plate information. If you notice the vehicle is registered to someone else, ask the driver’s relationship to the car’s owner. Use your camera, if available, to take photos of all these documents. If there are passengers in the other vehicle or a third party who witnessed the incident, obtain their information as well.
Step 4 – Take notes immediately. Write down specific details regarding the accident, how, when and where it happened. Document even the smallest of details that may seem irrelevant at the time. Write down the make, model and year of the other car if you have not already done so. Take note of any damage to the other vehicle and write specifically what areas have been affected and how extensive the damage is.
Step 5 – Report the accident to your insurance carrier. Auto insurance companies usually have specific hotlines that you can call 24 hours a day in the event of an accident. Report the accident as soon after it occurs as possible. You should also call the other driver’s insurance company to be sure the accident has been reported to them. Write down the claim number and the claim adjuster’s contact information for both the claim with your insurance company and the claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
Step 6 – Keep a log. As you will have a great deal of contact with your insurance company during the claims process, take a log of all the communication you have with the company and any other person involved in the claim. Write down the date and time of conversations you have, the name and title of the person you spoke to along with a detailed summary of what was discussed. Save all written correspondence, including emails and letters you may have received or sent.
Step 7 – Keep accurate records. Keep records of other issues associated with the accident such as the amount of time lost from work, injuries, dates of doctor visits, resulting expenses, and anything else that is relevant. Having these details will help you make a basis for a claim.