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Managing Auto Insurance: What to Do After an Accident

(04/26/2012) Auto accidents can happen to anyone, no matter how safe you drive or how prepared you are. To ease a stressful situation, and to prepare for the process of filing a claim with your auto insurance company, it's helpful to have a checklist of steps to follow in case of an accident.

Things you can do NOW to be prepared:

  • Carry safety cones or emergency flares in your trunk to help alert other traffic. Other helpful items to keep could include a flashlight, matches, blanket, jumper cables, and batteries.
  • Keep a pen and paper in your glove compartment
  • Always bring your cell phone when driving (but don't use it without a hands-free device when driving!)
  • If you or your family members have medical conditions that would affect any emergency treatment (allergies, medications, etc), keep a card with this information in your glove compartment or on you at all times
  • Keep your car insurance ID card, vehicle registration and list of emergency contacts in your glove compartment or on your person
Things you should do immediately after an accident:
  • Remember - staying calm is the most important method of reducing the stress of an accident
  • Check for injuries on yourself and any passengers. Call 911 immediately if medical attention is needed
  • Move your car out of traffic if possible
  • Turn on hazard lights and use safety cones or flares to notify other drivers
  • Check for damage to your car and other cars involved. If you have a camera on your phone or handy, take pictures.
  • Call the police
  • Call your auto insurance company or agent
Things to do before you leave the scene:
  • Write down what happened as it's fresh in your mind - the precipitating factors, the damage involved, and the witnesses present
  • Know the next steps with police (filing an accident report) and with your car insurance company (filing a claim)
  • When communicating with the other driver(s) involved, be polite but do not admit fault in any situation.
    • Keep your conversation strictly to facts and exchanging personal and insurance information. Never sign any documents unless they come from the police or your auto insurance company.
    • Information to collect should include name, address, phone number, car insurance company, policy number, driver license number, license plate number, name of the insured person on the policy (if different from the driver), and a written description of the car(s) involved, including year, make, model and color.
With this checklist handy, you make the most of your auto insurance, and make a difficult situation a little easier to handle.

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