Car accidents happen and when they happen to you it can be a headache. After a car accident in 2009, I realized that no one had ever taught me how to deal with this situation. You don’t want to study for the first time if you have an accident.
Here’s what you need to do if it happens to you:
- Stay calm. Take a deep breath. If it was a major accident, your adrenaline is likely going up and your heart may be beating a million miles per minute. Breath in, breath out.
- Check for injuries. If you cannot move or are in pain, call 911 for an ambulance. Even if you are not injured, NerdWallet pointed out in 2019 that calling the police is a great way to ensure you have an “official report to your insurance company.” This is also important in the case of minor accidents.
- Assess the situation and take yourself out of any danger.
- Document the accident. Take photos of all vehicles from all angles. Make sure to save all photos in a specific folder on your phone. Your smartphone embeds data in each photo, so you don’t have to worry about jotting down the date and time yourself. Get the other driver’s information: phone numbers and insurance information most importantly. Again, you might consider calling the police – even if everyone is working together right now.
- Submit a claim with the insurance companies. Depending on who caused the accident, insurance companies will need to be contacted so that claims can be made. If there are conflicting statements about who caused the accident, it is definitely in your best interest to allow the police to process your claim. While it can be tempting to deal with the accident without the insurance companies, you can put yourself at risk by doing the negotiations yourself. Damage costs that arise in car accidents can also deceive the untrained eye.
Once the claim has been submitted and the insurance paid out, your premium may increase. This is normal and should be expected, but it doesn’t mean you can’t look for a cheaper rate elsewhere. This is allowed, so take advantage of it!
If this is your first time in a car accident, your insurance company may be able to give you the benefit of the doubt. According to NerdWallet, “Your car insurance rates can go up significantly (in some cases 50% or more) depending on the severity of the accident and your insurance company. While some insurance companies offer forgiveness, which means that your culpable accident may not result in higher premiums, other companies may double your rate for the same accident. “
This is why you may be tempted to keep the costs “confidential”. Despite the risk of a higher premium, it is recommended to take the file route in order not to be exploited. Accidents happen! Keeping everything overboard will save you money, time and stress in the long run.