When an accident happens it can leave everyone shaken and unsure of what to do next. Before you worry about your car insurance claim, focus on the immediate concerns of the accident. If there is a lot of damage or injuries, call the police and medics immediately. When everyone has been taken care of you can then turn your attention to filing a car insurance claim.
If possible you should record as much information at the scene of the accident as possible. Of course this will come second to dealing with injuries at the scene, but once you have made certain everyone is alright you should consider the scene of the accident.
If you have a camera, take pictures of the cars before they have been moved. You should also take close-ups of damage to both vehicles and take pictures from a distance showing where the accident took place. The camera on your cell phone is a great way to get some pictures if you do not carry a regular camera with you.
You should exchange pertinent information with the other driver before anyone leaves the scene. Write down the driver's name, the license plate number on the car and ask to see a copy of their insurance card. Write down the policy number and name of the insurance company.
If the police have been called you must remain at the scene until they have completed their investigation. Both drivers and witnesses will likely be asked to provide a statement. If your car is drivable, you can take it home after the police have completed their work. If not, you will need to have a tow truck come and take it away. Your insurance company can help you get a tow, so this is a good time to put in a call to them.
You do not need to file your insurance claim from the scene of the accident, but you should take care of it as soon as you possibly can after the accident. If you need immediate assistance at the scene of the accident such as a tow truck, you can call from right there. Most insurance companies provide 24/7 claims assistance; this number should be located on your insurance card for easy access.
In a minor accident where no one is injured and the police are not called, you can go home and call the insurance company from there. Some companies may even offer online claims filing services to make it easier. Provide your insurance company with all of the information you have on the claim. They will ask you a number of questions. Be sure to answer them as accurately and honestly as possible.
The claims agent will assign an adjuster to your claim and you will likely hear from them within a few days. Until then, you should follow any instructions given to you by the claims agent when you filed the claim.
Once you have filed your claim your insurance company will take over and let you know what if anything they require from you. You will likely be required to give a statement, often done over the phone but sometimes in person. Your insurance company will help you with getting your car repaired and also with a rental car if needed and if this coverage is a part of your policy.
Carefully gathering information after an accident and providing the most accurate statements as you can about what happened are the most important thing any driver can do after an accident. This will ensure that the claims process goes smoothly.
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