What to Do After a Car Accident: A Quick Guide

Basil Mahadeo
4 min readAug 20, 2021

You know what they say about accidents: they happen. Even if you are a careful driver, you likely will still be involved in a car accident at some point in life. You can’t control what other drivers do, and everyone makes mistakes. That’s why it’s so important to have auto insurance to protect yourself, your passengers, and your vehicle.

In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, stress and emotions are high, even if everyone involved is physically fine. Take a deep breath and make sure to follow these steps.

Pull Over and Assess the Damage

The first thing you will need to do when you get into an accident is check to make sure everyone is safe. Call an ambulance or emergency number if anyone needs medical help.

Then, you’ll need to assess the damage. If your vehicle is still operational and it is safe to drive, pull over to a safe area, shut off the car, turn on your hazard lights, and get out to look at your vehicle. Make sure you are well clear of any traffic. If you have a smartphone, take pictures of the damage to your car.

If you can’t move your vehicle, shut off the engine, put your hazard lights on, and call for roadside assistance. If you have them, position road flares around your vehicle to alert other drivers.

Exchange Information with the Other Driver

If you’re involved in an accident with one or more other drivers, you’ll need to get their names, contact information, vehicle make and model, license plate number, and insurance information, including the insurance company name, policy number, and the insurance company’s phone number. If the other person does not have insurance, note that. You should also write down the location of the accident and the approximate time.

File a Report With Law Enforcement

Even if no one is hurt in the accident, you may still want to call the police to the scene so they can take an official report. A police report will provide written documentation that proves you got into an accident.

Once law enforcement arrives, they will ask you questions about the accident to try to understand how it happened, like how fast you were going, what lane of traffic you were in, and all the other details. You may need to show your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of auto insurance. The officer may give you a police report number — if not, note the officer’s name and/or badge number. Later, you can request a police report of the accident. Your insurance provider may request this report when you a file a claim.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Contact your insurance company soon after the accident. You’ll need to provide your name, policy number, vehicle make and model, and a description of what happened and the resulting damage. If anyone else was involved, you’ll have to provide the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information. If a police officer was present at the scene and took a report, make sure to tell your insurance company this too. Give the report number if one was given to you.

Make a Claim

After calling your insurance company, you will likely be assigned to a claims representative who will keep track of your claim and help you throughout the process of getting your vehicle repaired.

In some cases, a claims adjuster will come out to evaluate the condition of your vehicle. After assessing the damage to your vehicle, the claims adjuster will make an estimate and then give you an assessment of the damage. This information will be used by a repair facility to repair your vehicle. If the claims adjuster determines that your vehicle cannot be safely repaired, it will be deemed a total loss. Your claims adjuster will let you know what the next steps are if your vehicle is totaled.

Take Your Vehicle In for Repairs

If your vehicle was damaged, you’ll need to take it to an auto shop to get fixed. It is important to find a reputable mechanic you trust. Often, your insurance company can recommend a shop to you from their list of preferred providers. Going with their recommendation can make the repair process quicker and easier.

Rent a Car If Necessary

When getting your vehicle repaired, you may need to wait a few days or even weeks, depending on the complexity of the repairs and other factors. During this time, you may need a car to get to work and complete everyday errands. If you are in this situation, contact a car rental company and rent a vehicle during this time. A car rental company can offer you a variety of vehicles that you can use while your current one is getting fixed.

You may have opted to include rental reimbursement on your auto insurance policy, which will help offset the cost of your rental. Always check with your insurance company first before renting a car while your vehicle is being repaired.

Conclusion

Getting into an accident is a difficult and stressful experience, even when there are no injuries involved. However, if you have auto insurance, you can rest a little easier.

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Basil Mahadeo

Basil Dahana Ram Mahadeo is a Director of GBTI for the past twenty-two (22) years.