Accidents happen even to cautious drivers. After a car accident, you may be shocked, dizzy with adrenaline, or angry at the man who gave the red light.

The first thing to do after a car accident? Stay calm. The post-accident process is pretty straightforward, but not always easy. Keeping a cool head will allow you to document the wreck more thoroughly and accurately.

Use the tips below to prepare for the stressful aftermath of a car accident and to make the claims process – if any – more efficient and effective.

Immediately after the car accident, determine if anyone is injured. If so, call 911 for an ambulance and the local police. Even if the incident was minor and everyone is cooperative, you should call the police. This will give you an official report to show to your insurance company.

If the vehicles involved are still in service, bring them to your shoulder or off the main road. Make sure to pull off the road completely to avoid being hit by approaching vehicles. If you have flares or reflective emergency triangles, set them up to warn other cars. If there is a risk of explosion, move everyone out of the way.

3. Exchange information and document the crash

State laws differ in how much information you should give at the scene of the accident. In general, all you need to do is share your name and insurance information with other drivers involved. While you may want to find out the details of the crash with the other driver, it is best to limit your interaction so that you don’t admit the blame or blame the other person.

Even so, you want to get as much information as possible, including:

  • Other driver’s name and insurance information.

  • The other driver’s phone number, if they are willing to provide it.

  • Experience contact information.

  • Police officer’s name and phone number.

  • Personal notes about what happened during the incident.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has WreckCheck, a free app that records the time of the accident, you can create written and audible details, and email everything to you or your agent. In addition, several auto insurance companies offer free smartphone apps that you can use to document the details of the crash.

You don’t have a smartphone app, but you have a pen and paper at hand? Draw a diagram of the scene and take notes of the accident, including the direction of travel of each vehicle.

4. Determine what coverage would apply

How the auto accident insurance claims process affects you depends on who was to blame and what type of coverage you and the other driver have. Assuming the other driver was to blame, the covers would work.

Your and your passengers’ expenses

  • Your vehicle: The other driver’s liability insurance for property damage covers repairs up to the insurance limit.

  • Your medical bills: These would be covered to the limit of bodily harm to the other driver Liability insurancewhich is required in most states. In the 12 error-free states, your personal personal protection would come into play.

If the other driver didn’t have insurance or didn’t have enough coverage to pay your bills, uninsured or underinsured auto insurance would pay off. Uninsured auto insurance is required in 21 states and the District of Columbia, and some of these states also require uninsured auto insurance.

The other driver’s cost

  • Her car: Collision protection Repairs are paid for up to the actual cash value of the vehicle minus a deductible. Generally, this coverage is optional unless you are funding or leasing.

  • Your own injuries: The health insurance coverage (MedPay) that is part of their policy would come with the health insurance coverage.

Optional covers that can help both drivers

  • Roadside emergency service: This is useful when you need to be towed to the repair shop. This service is one of the Benefits of AAA membership;; However, it is often cheaper to get an emergency service from your auto insurer. The downside is that using it is considered a claim and claims can cause your prices to go up.

Note that you will likely need a collision and full coverage to add rental car refunds and roadside emergency services.

5. Decide if you want to make a claim

If an accident was your fault and the damage looks minor, it is tempting to offer cash for the other driver’s repairs. But it might be more expensive than you think. According to consumer reports, a series of test crashes at only 10 mph caused damage that looked minor but costed from $ 3,000 to $ 6,000.

You may still need to get your own insurance upfront even if the other driver was to blame for an accident. This is how it works:

  • Register with your insurance company and be ready to pay a deductible. Your insurer will communicate with the other driver’s insurance company and reimburse your deductible if necessary.

  • When you live in a faultless state, your own PIP injury coverage pays for yourself and everyone in the car with you. (You still have the right to sue for serious injuries later.)

  • The other driver’s insurance will investigate whether the customer was at fault. You will then either be asked for a repair estimate or an adjuster will assess the damage.

  • The company can pay the medical expenses unless you live in a faultless state. In both cases, however, you will only be reimbursed up to the liability limits of the culpable driver.

  • If that’s not enough to pay all the bills, you can turn to your own collision insurance, if you have one, or your own underinsured auto insurance, which isn’t required in every state. Deductibles are likely to apply to both.

6. Look for cheaper car insurance rates

Depending on the severity of the accident and your insurance company, your auto insurance rates can go up significantly (in some cases 50% or more). While some insurance companies offer it Forgiveness of accidentsThis means that your culpable accident may not lead to higher premiums. Other companies may double your rate for the same accident.

In fact, according to a report by the Consumer Federation of America, some companies will increase the non-your fault accident rate by 10% or more. Still other policies only raise the price if you are to blame. Even the amount of When an accident affects your tariffs varies depending on the state and company.

Just surviving a car accident can feel like victory. However, don’t let your post-accident shock distract you from taking care of business both at the scene of the accident and with insurance issues. That is why it is important to Compare car insurance rates to find the best price (and policy) for you.