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What to Do After a Car Accident (with Infographic)

5 min read

Even if you are a careful driver, accidents happen. In the aftermath of a car accident you might feel shocked, confused, or scared. Your adrenaline levels will spike which can keep you from feeling any potential injuries you may have suffered. That’s why the first thing you should do is take a deep breath and take inventory of the situation. The stress of an accident doesn’t stop there but calming yourself down will help you shift your focus toward what needs to be done after a car accident.

What to Do After a Car Accident: Immediate Steps

Your number one concern is your physical health and safety. Before you begin to think about an insurance claim, take these immediate steps and never flee the scene of an accident:

Step 1. Assess Injuries – After the accident, determine whether anyone is injured or unresponsive. If so, call emergency services immediately and obtain any necessary medical care.

Step 2. Get to Safety – If your vehicle is drivable, carefully move it to the shoulder or other safe place off the main road.

Step 3. Call the Police if needed – If you or someone else is seriously injured, call 911 right away. Some states require you to always call the police in the event of an accident and some don’t. Either way, you will likely be shaken up after an accident and it could be beneficial to have a police officer there to help take down the details or mediate between the involved parties if someone refuses to cooperate. They can also help if you are unable to move your car safely off the road, or the damages are severe. When you are ready to file your claim, a police report can provide important details to your insurance company.

Step 4. Gather Information – Get the information of everyone involved in the accident or anyone nearby who was a witness. This should include names, phone numbers, addresses, insurance details, Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN), license plate numbers, and photos of the location and damages. It’s always smart to carry a pen and notepad in your glove-box, but you can also use your cellphone to take pictures of insurance cards, drivers licenses, and license plates too!

NOTE: Do not admit fault when exchanging information with the other driver or filling out a police report. Leave it up to the experts to determine who is at fault during the claims process.

Step 5. Contact Your Insurance Company – Contact your insurance provider while you are still at the scene of the accident or as soon as it is safe to do so. You can do this while you wait for police to arrive, or after they have left. In the shock of an accident, it is common for people to forget that they have things like roadside assistance on their insurance policies. If your car is not drivable, your insurance company can help arrange for a towing service and, depending on your coverage, may even cover a rental car.

Step 6. Notify the DMV if needed – Some states require you to notify the DMV in the event of an accident, regardless of who was at-fault. There is typically a deadline to submit the report, but it’s usually a few days after the accident happens so don’t worry too much about this right away. You can get more information about a state’s reporting requirements by going onto their DMV’s webpage or by asking your insurance company when you report the claim.

What to Do After a Car Accident: Filing a Claim

What happens after a car accident depends on a number of various factors, but a typical claims process will look like this:

Step 1. Consolidate Your Information – Once the dust has settled from your accident and you are ready to file a claim, gather the pertinent information you will need. This includes the details you collected from the other driver(s) as well as the police report number if a report was done. Make sure this information is readily available before contacting your insurance provider.

Step 2. Open Your Claim – When you speak with your insurance provider, they will walk you through the claims process. Be ready to provide details about the accident, including the time, place, date, the police report, personal information of everyone involved and any photos taken at the scene. If there is a dispute between the two parties about who was at fault, you should expect to get a call from the other driver’s insurance company looking for your version of events.

Step 3. Speak with Your Claims Adjuster – After your insurance company opens your claim, an adjuster will be assigned to your claim. You will likely meet with your claims adjuster either in person or over the phone to provide the details of the accident. The adjuster will determine which coverages can provide you benefits, explain how they work, if any deductibles apply, and will also investigate who is at fault for the accident. If you have the appropriate coverage, they’ll help set up an inspection for your vehicle so that the damages can be assessed. This is typically done by having the vehicle inspected at an insurance company affiliated shop, or by having an appraiser come out to the vehicle.

Step 4: Repairs and Claim Payment – Once your vehicle has been inspected, you’ll receive a copy of the repair estimate. Your repair estimate will typically outline all the work to be done and what kind of parts will be used to make the repairs. Your insurance company may be able to recommend a shop who can complete the repairs, or you can have your car repaired at the shop of your choice. If the shop finds any additional damage or the prices change on some of the parts, don’t worry! Your shop can contact your adjuster or appraiser to discuss a supplemental estimate.

If You Have Problems with A Claim

Your claims adjuster is there to make sure that all claims are handled fairly for you and the insurance company. If for any reason you have difficulties communicating with your claims adjuster, or you don't understand something about the process, don’t just sign off on it. It’s important to be informed throughout the process. Contact your insurance company and ask to speak with someone to resolve any disputes, disagreements or confusion about the process.

Have more questions about what happens after a car accident, or how to file an insurance claim? Contact us to speak with an insurance professional who can walk you through all the details. Are you unsure about whether you are properly protected in the event of an accident? Get a free quote today to see how Wawanesa Insurance can help.

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The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.

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