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If you’ve ever been in an accident, you know how scary they can be. Be prepared for a collision by learning the right way to handle an accident before it happens.
The next step is to exchange details with other drivers involved in the accident. Ideally, you’ll have a notepad and pen in your glovebox for this purpose. You could also take notes on your phone. Some insurers also now have mobile apps to help with the accident-recording process.
If you have your mobile phone, take photos of the accident scene, as well as the scene itself. These pictures should include the damage to your car, damage to other vehicles and any third-party property damage.
Unfortunately, not all drivers will be cooperative and helpful when involved in an accident. Here are some scenarios and how to deal with them:
If possible, call your insurance company from the accident scene. It will be able to talk you through the process and advise you of your next steps. You’ll usually be advised to not admit liability to anyone.
This is because you may be in a state of shock or may not be fully aware of the circumstances of the accident. It’s not up to you or anyone else at the scene to determine fault, which should be left to the police and insurance companies to decide at a later date.
Even if no one is hurt or the damage is only minor, you should still report an accident to your insurer. This will protect you in the event that the other party involved decides to make a claim against you, if you develop an injury or discover further damage to your vehicle at a later date.
It’s against the law to lie to your insurance company, but be mindful of the information you do provide. Answer the questions truthfully and provide an honest recount of the incident, but don’t try to guess on any fuzzy details.
Don’t assume blame. Relay the facts, then let the police and insurance company determine who’s at fault.
If your vehicle is damaged, you’ll need to determine whether it’s roadworthy before driving it from the scene of the accident. Damage may be obvious in the form of a flat tyre or punctured radiator, but other damage may be harder to determine, such as steering or brake problems. Check your vehicle over thoroughly before driving it. If there’s any doubt about its roadworthiness, don’t drive it away from the scene.
If your vehicle isn’t drivable, tow truck drivers attending the accident may try to talk you into taking your vehicle to a mechanic they’re affiliated with. Don’t let yourself be talked into anything you don’t understand or trust. Under no circumstances should you sign a contract, as it may be committing you to having your vehicle repaired at a particular mechanic.
Ask your insurer what you should do. You’ll generally be directed to an approved mechanic, which the tow truck should take your vehicle to.
Even if you aren’t at fault, you can (and often should) contact your insurance provider.
Your insurance company will handle the claim with the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf. Typically, your provider will cover the costs upfront and then seek reimbursement from the other insurance company. However, you will most likely have to pay the excess, even though you aren’t at fault. Once your insurer is reimbursed by the other insurance company, your excess will be refunded. This process often results in faster claims since you will be paid before fault is determined. But you will have to cover your excess upfront.
If you opt to use the other driver’s insurance, you might have to wait longer before you receive money for repairs to your car. This is because the insurer will need to investigate who is at fault before releasing any claims money. However, you won’t have to pay the excess. The negative to using the other driver’s insurance is when they don’t have enough cover to pay for all of the damage to your car, in which case you’ll have to go ahead and file a claim with your provider anyway.
The final step after an accident is to make a claim with your insurance company. If your vehicle was towed to a mechanic that has been approved by your insurer, repairs will usually be authorised fairly quickly.
On the other hand, if your vehicle is drivable after the accident and only needs minor repairs, your insurer may require you to obtain at least two quotes (sometimes three) from different mechanics, from which they will choose the lowest quote.
Whether you choose to make a claim at all will depend on the cost of repairs compared to your deductible and the effect a claim would have on your no claim bonus. Many people choose not to make a claim on repairs under £500 for these reasons.
Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous drivers out there who will stage an accident in order to scam your insurance company out of money. These fraudsters often stage an accident that appears to be your fault, then exaggerate injuries and/or damage to their car. Although your insurance provider is the ultimate victim, the loss they incur due to these fraudulent claims is passed on to you in the form of higher premiums.
Here are some warning signs to look out for:
When you’re involved in an accident and the damage seems to be minimal or even non-existent, it could be tempting to take a cash offer from the other driver. Resist that temptation. There may be damage to your car that isn’t visible or you could be underestimating the cost of repairing any visible damage. You also could have suffered an injury that isn’t apparent at the time of the crash.
Take the time to get the diver’s insurance and contact info, and be sure to document the accident by taking pictures with your smartphone. If the costs of the accident exceed the cash offer (which will most likely be the case), you’ll be glade you did.
If you’re involved in an accident, try to stay calm. The best thing you can do after an accident is to go through the steps listed here and let the car insurance companies argue the legalities of the situation at a later date.
Make sure you’re covered for any kind of accident or claim with the right car insurance.
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