If you've ever been involved in an auto accident, you probably know what a hectic and chaotic experience it is. Unfortunately, amidst the adrenaline, anxiety, and safety issues that you'll have to deal with, you'll need to get a lot of important information. Failure to do so can make the claim process much more difficult to navigate.
The best way to deal with this is to learn what information you'll require before you find yourself in an accident. That way, you won't have to learn on the fly while everything else is going on.
Contact Info For All Passengers/Motorists
Most people understand that they'll need to have the contact information for the other drivers. After all, that's the person the insurance company will need to work with in order to complete repairs on your vehicle. However, since this is the only time everyone will be together, you should use this opportunity to get the information from everyone involved--including any witnesses.
You won't be certain about the testimony or information required to make the claim process go smoothly. You also won't know which of the passengers will pursue a medical claim in the future. Since there isn't always an attending police officer's report to rely on, get the information yourself when you can.
Location and Area Description
If your accident happens in the middle of a town or city, the location is easy to establish. You'll just need to take note of the street and direction you're travelling on. Then, look for the nearest cross street and note the name. That's all there is to it.
On the other hand, if you're on a highway or country road, things can become complicated. Look for any of the following indicators to help narrow down your location:
- Mile markers
- Exit ramps
- Landmarks, such as water towers or geographic features
- Homes or other building addresses
In a worst-case scenario, use your phone to take some photos of the surroundings. Your phone also has a GPS function that can help you narrow down your current location. Be sure to use whatever you can to nail down your location as accurately as possible.
Insurance Company and Policy Number
You'll need to supply your insurance company with the policy number and company for all other motorists involved in the accident. Unfortunately, approximately 16% of all motorists are currently uninsured. In these cases, you'll need to be certain that you have accurate contact information before leaving the scene. You might also want to call the police in this situation--even if the damage to your vehicle and occupants is light.
However, when sharing your insurance information, don't give out your policy details or coverage limits. You'll want to make sure that any claim made against you is done so based on the actual damages done--not on your type of coverage. Stick to the policy number and company information only when sharing or obtaining insurance information.
Description of Damages
It's common for damage estimates to inflate after the actual accident takes place. It's vital, then, for you to protect yourself by getting an accurate and agreed-upon report of the damage done at the scene of the accident. There are a few tips for doing this effectively:
- Phones--Use your phone to get photos of all vehicles involved in a collision
- Written Reports--Ask multiple people to describe the vehicle's condition in writing
- Mutual Agreement--Require the other drivers to sign off on any/all written descriptions
Unfortunately, you'll have very little recourse against health conditions that crop up after the accident. That said, you should still get a narrative from everyone involved about their current state of health. Since they may be shaken up, don't press the issue if they remain uncooperative. Instead, insist upon an emergency responder and use their report.
The scene of the accident is your best opportunity to gather the information you'll need to facilitate a smooth insurance claim process. Make sure that you use this opportunity to get everything that you and your insurer will need.
Contact a lawyer, like one at Lucky Law firm, to help you file claims or need to bring any suits against an insurance company of the other drivers.