Being involved in an accident or a hit and run is one of the more stressful experiences a car owner can go through, but being thorough and prepared at the scene of the accident will ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. If someone has hit your car, you might not know whose insurance to call or what information you should collect from the other driver. In this blog, we’ll outline a few things you should do at the scene of the accident before you head to the auto body shop.
Call your insurance provider
If you’re involved in an accident in which you believe that you are not at fault, or if you’ve been involved in a hit and run, you will always call your insurance provider first. Many people are nervous to report an accident to their insurer for fear of their rates possibly increasing. However, most state laws prohibit insurance providers from increasing rates due to accidents that aren’t the fault of the policy holder.
Regardless of who is at fault, letting your insurance company know you were involved in an accident also establishes good faith and can help you out later on, especially if the other driver is not determined to be at fault. You should always report any accident to your insurer, regardless of whether you believe you are at fault or not.
Typically, with any accident, your car insurance provider is responsible for covering (depending on your coverage) the immediate costs resulting from the accident or hit and run. If you have collision insurance, filing a claim with your insurer gets you on the way to getting your vehicle repaired or replaced. While you’ll likely have to pay a deductible or other associated costs, your insurance should cover the rest.
In the case of an accident involving another driver, after you both call your insurance providers, they will work together to determine, if possible, who is at fault in the accident. If you are determined to be not at fault, your insurance company will work to recoup the costs they or you might have paid after the accident occurred.
Before this whole process can take place, however, there is some essential work you need to do to help your insurance company resolve the matter.
Gather essential information at the scene
It’s important to note that insurance companies can sometimes mistakenly show a not-at-fault accident as an at-fault accident in certain reporting systems, such as on a MVR. If you happen to find yourself in this situation, you’ll be called on to provide documentation that supports the accident being a not-at-fault accident in order to have it removed from this and other records. That’s one reason why it’s particularly important to gather all the essential information whenever you’re involved in an accident, regardless of who you perceive to be at fault.
When you’re involved in an accident with another driver, depending on how severe the accident and resulting damage is, you should call the police and explain that you’ve been in an accident. It’s especially important to call the police if anyone is injured, the damage to your car is severe, or other property has been damaged.
Regardless of the scale of the accident, having an impartial third party record of a statement from you, the other driver(s) involved and any witnesses is essential when trying to prove fault in an accident. If you can, try to obtain a copy of the police report or the report number so that your insurance company can easily obtain it. Many state laws, including Missouri’s, require that any accident that includes death, bodily injury and/or property damage that exceeds $500 must be reported.
Regardless of whether the police are called, there is some additional information you need to gather for yourself, including:
- The other driver’s name and address
- Contact information for the other driver
- The other driver’s license information
- The other driver’s insurance company and policy information
- Pictures of the accident scene and any damage
- Statements and contact info from any witnesses of the accident
Most insurance companies have accident checklists and mobile apps you can use at the scene to make sure you properly document and save all the essential information that pertains to your accident.
The person who hit your car is responsible for contacting their insurance company, but you should provide their insurance information to your insurance provider when you report the accident. The other driver might not call their insurance company, so having your insurance company contact them ensures the other driver’s insurance company knows about the accident.
After you’ve collected all the necessary information, your insurance company can get to work and help rectify the situation and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.