You’re cruising down the street heading to work; your mind is on all the things you have to take care of when you get there. You stop at the red light ahead and sit patiently waiting for it to turn green. You notice out of the side of your eye that the left turn lane signal turned green, just before you feel the hard bump that jolts you forward as the car behind you connects with yours. You’ve just been rear-ended, now what do you do?
Most of us know the importance of carrying car insurance, we know what to do if we get stopped by a police officer, but if you have never been in a car accident, you probably are not really sure about what to do about filing an insurance claim.
First, keep five things in your glove compartment; your vehicle registration, insurance card, pen, a pad of paper, and a disposable camera. Make sure that the insurance card is the most current one, when you get new ones from your insurance carrier throw the old one away and replace it.
Be sure that you remain calm, one of the worst things you can do is start ranting and raving at the person who hit you, that’s not going to help anything. Calmly ask for their insurance and contact information, and offer yours. Make sure that you contact the police so that you can get an “official” report of the accident.
Take the entire camera of pictures of the accident scene. It is better to have too many photos than not enough. Take photos of the flow of traffic, the street signs to signify where you were at when it happened. Get photos of the damage to BOTH cars, not just yours.
Although, you will fill frazzled and possibly talkative, DO NOT admit guilt of any kind. Only speak to the officers about the accident particulars. Call your insurance company and report the accident. Most insurance companies have an 800 number on your insurance card to call in accidents. They will help you on the scene, and many will send you the forms you need to fill out to your email address.
In a situation like above, it is pretty cut and dried that the person that hit you is at fault. Remember, not all accidents are quite so simple. There can be times when who is at fault is not so easily determined, such as when you have an accident with someone at an uncontrolled intersection, that is an intersection with no signal or stop signs. Or accidents that involve multiple vehicles, where more than one driver can be found to be at fault.
Whether or not you are at fault, if damage is caused to another person’s property by your vehicle you will need to file a claim. Having all the information you need when you do so will help reduce your level of stress and anxiety, as well as make the process as smooth and painless as possible.