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Steps To Follow If You Are In A Car Accident

Steps To Follow If You Are In A Car Accident

By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012
Statistics show that most of us have been involved in an accident, whether or not we were behind the wheel. But of those who have been in an auto accident, how many of us knew offhand the correct steps to follow in this situation? And many auto insurance consumers may not know the quickest and easiest route to filing a claim with your insurance company.

As an educated insurance consumer, you should know the basic steps involved in filing an automobile insurance claim. Accidents are always unexpected, that is why they are called "accidents." While you can't foresee getting into an accident, you can be prepared in case you do. Tip: you might want to clip out this short list and keep it in your car.

In Case of An Accident.

At The Scene
First, stop your vehicle. State laws require persons involved in an accident to stop and exchange information.

Call 911 for police and/or medical assistance. Even if an accident seems minor, assistance may be needed to clear the accident scene, handle traffic, and file an accident report. You may also have stress injuries that come on after the shock wears off. Once the officer and/or medical personnel have finished (and if possible), collect information about the accident at the scene, or as soon after as is practical (you may be able to get a copy of the report filled out by the police officer). This information should include time and place of accident, weather and road conditions, and other circumstances of the accident; as well as names, addresses, telephone numbers, driver's license number and insurance information of those involved (including contact information for any passengers and/or witnesses). You also want to note vehicle information for all cars involved (including make, model, year, color and license plate number) and department and badge numbers of the responding police officer.

Filing Your Claim
Call your insurance company and/or agent as soon as possible. The quicker you report a claim, the quicker the process can get started. Think about it; how many of us can be without our cars for a just a week, not to mention longer? You want to get the insurance process going and repairs done as quickly as possible. Also, the insurer may deny payment of your claim if you do not report the accident within a reasonable period (make sure you read your policy for more details on such a time period).

Make sure your insurance company agrees to pay your claim before you start getting any repairs. They may need to send out an adjuster before approving your claim. You can choose which repair shop to go to unless otherwise stated in your insurance policy (some insurance companies require you go to repair shops approved by them, and may in turn offer you a discount to do so). Check all repairs after they are completed, and keep all receipts associated with the repairs (including an itemized list of exactly what was repaired).

Additional Tips
Make sure you include all the requested information on your insurance application during the initial application process, as an insurer may refuse to pay a claim (not to mention cancel your policy) if they later find that you withheld information that would have caused them to deny you coverage in the first place.

Make sure the insurance company you choose is rated financially strong. If your insurance company is not financially stable and forecloses anywhere near your accident, you may end up paying for most or all of the repairs and medical costs associated with your accident yourself. Although State Insurance Boards will often help if an insurance company legally files bankruptcy, this process takes a long time and payments are often delayed. You can check the financial rating of each insurance company that interests you when going through the quoting process at InsWeb's online marketplace.

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