It is estimated that we will have one major auto accident every 20 years. That means you will statistically have between 3 and 4 major auto accidents in your lifetime! If the day comes that you are involved in an accident, chances are you won’t know what you are supposed to do or even what your rights are after an accident. That could mean big trouble. We want to try to help should this ever occur to you or someone you know. The information below is a checklist of what to do following an accident. A downloadable PDF version is also available below. Print this out and keep it in your glove compartment with your current registration and insurance information.
What to do after an accident
- Most important is to check and make sure no one was injured. This includes yourself and your passengers, the other vehicle’s driver and any passengers, and any pedestrians. If someone was injured, contact emergency services immediately.
- Once you are sure everyone is ok, contact the police. It is best practice during the time you are awaiting the police to arrive to keep conversation with the other vehicles occupants to a minimum. Try not to discuss the accident or events leading up to it except with the police officers to ensure your memory of the accident is as clear as possible.
- Take photos of both vehicles and the surrounding area of where the accident took place. Police rarely take photos when there are no injuries. Each police department has different policies on whether the officer is required to take photos of the accident. To be on the safe side, take your own pictures.
- When the police have finished the investigation, and given the appropriate paperwork to you, they will let you know you are free to leave. Never leave the scene of the accident until police tell you to do so.
- If your vehicle can be driven, take it home and go on to the next step. If your vehicle must be towed from the accident scene, ask the tow-truck driver where the vehicle will be taken.
- YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE WHERE YOUR VEHICLE IS REPAIRED!!!!!! Your insurance company may attempt to steer you to the shop that they have pre-arranged contracts with. They are called Preferred Shops and they are preferred for a reason, to save the insurance company money. It is your job to make an informed choice on where your repairs will be done. They will typically say things to get you to their shops like “We can’t guarantee the repairs unless you go to our shop” (the repair shop itself guarantees the repairs not your insurance company…but nice try) “We have heard bad things about them” (This is also a well-known steering tactic. Check out the shop for yourself on Google.) “We won’t pay for your rental car if you go there” (Yes, they will! They must pay for it if it is in your policy no matter where the repairs are performed…. again, nice try). Check out the shop you are wanting to use on Google. The reviews on Google cannot be altered or deleted by the business owner, therefore they are reviews you can typically trust. At this time, it is a good idea to review your auto insurance policy. Make yourself familiar with what your limits are and what you and your insurance company are responsible for.
- Ask Questions, Ask Questions, Ask Questions! If you do not understand your deductible, ask. If you are not sure about what the estimate says, ask. If your insurance company says you MUST do something but you are not sure if that is right, ask. If you feel like you are being talked in circles by your insurance rep and don’t understand why something is the way it is, ask. There is nothing written in your policy that says you can’t ask questions. Remember, your insurance company is a for-profit-BUSINESS, and the goal of any business is to make money and save money. So, is it so hard to believe that they would choose the $20 knock-off part over the $80 original manufactured part?? This happens every day and the reason they do it is because they are counting on your lack of knowledge about your vehicle, its innerworkings and details of your insurance policy. The inner workings of an automobile are complex and can be confusing, and your insurance company will take advantage of that. Having an accident is bad enough, dealing with the consequences can be worse, but being cheated out of a quality repair because you didn’t ask questions and get the info you need, takes the cake. Don’t kid yourself, there have been many repairs done at “Preferred Shops” that when inspected by another shop were found to have safety and structural damages that were not repaired properly but because you didn’t know what you were looking at, they got away with it.