Understanding Your Auto Insurance Claim
Do your self a favor and prepare in advance. Know the laws and the reporting requirements of the state you live in and drive in. Always carry an accident package in your car. It should contain paper, pen, and accident reporting form which are available online free from the DMV.
If an accident occurs remain calm and stop your car. If there are injuries do what you can to make the person or persons comfortable. Call the EMT to treat any injured parties and call the police.
If you smell gas or if the car is on fire clear all persons away from the area. Do not move seriously injured people unless it is a threat to their lives to leave them where they are.
If the accident is minor and there is only property damage and no injuries, put your hazard lights on and drive both vehicles to a safe location at the side of the road. Set up flare or reflective triangles in the rear and side of the cars to ensure other motorists are aware of your location.
Both drivers need exchange car insurance information. You also need to exchange the names of the drivers, all passengers in the vehicle, and any witnesses. As well as names you should obtain complete addresses and telephone numbers.
Next you will need to contact your insurance company and if you feel you need to contact a lawyer now is the time to do so.
Your car insurance company will need to collect all pertinent information. They will need the year, make, model, and license plate number of the other car. They will also need the drivers name, address, telephone number, date of birth, and his or her drivers license number as well as the issuing state.
If the other drive is not insured obtain as much information as you can then notify the police. Both the police and the insurance company will want the full names, addresses, and phone numbers of all witnesses.
If the police attend the accident scene request a business card from the attending officer that gives his full name and how you might reach him.
If you have a digital camera handy take plenty of photos. These days many people have a digital camera built right into their cell phone which is very convenient.
As soon as you are able, write down all details pertaining to the accident. Information such as weather conditions, pavement conditions, visibility and lightening could all become very important in determining who was at fault.
You also need to record the estimated speed of both vehicles. As well do a sketch of the accident scene marking the direction each driver was traveling. Make notes of things such as stop signs, traffic lights, other vehicles on the roadway, and any obstacles.
You should also record all damage to the car and any other property as well as all body injuries no matter how minor they appear.
Whatever you do, do not discuss who is at fault with the other driver. Insurance companies recommend you do not engage in conversation about fault. Give the police officer an account of the accident but in privacy away from the other driver.
Remember no one can force you to give details of the accident or admit blame. You always have the right to consult a lawyer before answering any questions.
Lets hope you never have to file an insurance claim. But if you are well prepared should an accident occur you will be much more likely to record the necessary information to ensure that your claim proceeds smoothly.