Accidents Happen: Working With Your Insurance Company After An Incident

In a perfect world, there would be no risk of being involved in a car crash or accident. This is the real world, however, so it helps to be prepared for anything and everything that might come your way — no matter how unpleasant it may be. Purchasing insurance coverage is the best way to ensure that you, your passengers and other drivers are protected against accidents. Here are a few things you can do to help yourself and your insurance provider in the period after an accident.

It is always a good idea to have a camera with you or in your vehicle at all times. If you have a smartphone, you probably already have a built-in camera at your disposal. Otherwise, a cheap camera might be kept in your glovebox or under the seat of your car. This allows you to quickly document the scene of the accident for future reference. If there is any confusion about what happened, photos can be used to put the pieces together and make the investigation proceed more quickly. Even a disposable film camera is better than nothing. Take pictures of any damages, signage and skid marks or debris left in the accident.

ALWAYS keep an updated copy of your insurance policy in your vehicle. If you require that information for your personal records, a photocopy will be sufficient. If you are pulled over for a traffic violation or after the accident, failure to produce proof of insurance may mean a ticket or even having your vehicle impounded. By keeping this information on hand at all times, you make it easier to exchange relevant information with the other party, as well as with the police officer who responds to the scene.

In some states, law enforcement does not dispatch an officer to the scene of the accident unless injuries are sustained. Regardless of whether a policeman is dispatched, however, you should still file an accident report. To start the process, obtain a state vehicle accident report. You find this form at your local DMV or at any police station. Filling out and submitting the form in its entirety can shorten the amount of time needed to process your claim.

Whether the accident was your fault, the other driver’s fault or nobody’s fault, you should still exchange all relevant information for future use. If the other party indicates that he or she does not intend to file a claim, you should still exchange information; the other driver may have a change of heart later on. First, obtain personal information, including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, if possible. Next, write down insurance information, which should include the insurance provider and agent, policy number and contact number. Additional details to exchange include the year, plate number, make and model of all vehicles, as well as the color and physical description of each. Remain calm and collected, and do not accuse the other party of any wrongdoing — even if there is no doubt as to who is at fault. An aggressive or accusatory tone can only make things worse.

Even the idea of being involved in an accident is enough to send your pulse skyrocketing. In the unfortunate event that one does occur, you must be able to stay calm and rational as you take the next steps. By doing so, you cover all your bases and ensure that the investigation and handling of your claim moves along as quickly as possible. The sooner you can successfully submit your claim, the sooner you start to get things back to normal.