According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an automobile accident occurs somewhere in the world every minute of every day, translating to 5.25 million incidents per year.
While no one wants to think about experiencing an auto accident, it's clear that drivers on the road need to be prepared to handle these unexpected occurrences.
The first thing you should do after an accident is check to see if anyone is hurt. If immediate medical attention is required, stay calm and contact emergency services.
Even if injuries don't appear to be serious, emergency services should be contacted. Not only are medical professionals more capable of diagnosing an injury, but it will allow for official documentation that can come in handy if an insurance claim is filed later.
Contacting the police
If you dial 911, the police will be dispatched to your location. Even if no one is injured, you should still contact the authorities in order to have an official accident report on file, which will help greatly when it comes to filing insurance claims.
Additionally, do not leave the scene of an accident before the police arrive, as this could result in a hit and run charge.
If you happen to have a camera with you - or a smart phone - take some photos of the vehicles involved, the general area where the accident occurred, and any tire skid marks.
Moving your vehicle
If the accident is minor and leaves your vehicle in the middle of the roadway, move it to the side of the road, if you are able. This will make conditions safer for other motorists and lessen the chance of another accident. If a car will not start after a collision, you could put it in neutral and attempt to push it out of the way, if it is safe to do so.
However, if you or anyone else is injured, or if a vehicle is badly damaged, it's best to leave it where it is while waiting for emergency services. Also, be sure that it is safe to exit your vehicle before doing so. Getting out of your car on a busy roadway could lead to more accidents.
Remember to turn on your vehicle's hazard lights to notify oncoming traffic of the accident.
Once it is safe to do so, you should exchange information with any other drivers involved in the accident. This includes names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, insurance company name, policy number and contact information. Vehicle make and model, as well as license plate number, are important details as well.
Remember to obtain the police report number, phone number, officer names, badge numbers and other necessary information from first responders. Drivers should also make note of the accident location.
While collecting information, refrain from discussing the incident with other drivers and witnesses. Emotions can run high in times of crisis and saying something that could be construed as admitting liability could lead to a lawsuit. Do not sign any document unless it is for the police or your insurance agent.
Contacting your insurer
Once the proper authorities have been contacted, it's essential to get in touch with your insurance company immediately. Your insurer will assign a representative to your case to help guide you through the next steps.
Speak to a HUB International broker to find out if you are properly covered for automobile accidents, as well as to find a policy that suits your individual needs.