Few things in life are more stressful than taking part of a car accident. One proven way to lower your stress, and perhaps your expense at the same time is to have a plan of action when and if you're in a car accident.
Keep in mind each accident is unique, and so you may have to adjust based on the situation, and with that in mind, if you're injured, the most important element is not increasing your injury. It seems like it may be obvious and would go without saying, albeit it's difficult to emphasis the importance of mitigating your injuries enough. It doesn't matter if you drive a Ford, GM, Tesla, or any other brand, they all are vulnerable to accidents.
That said, here's what I suggest as best practices during an auto accident:
- Remain calm. This is especially true if you're first instinct is to be angry at the other driver because they caused the accident. Anger tends to make it more difficult to describe in detail what occurred and you may forget and/or leave out important details later when describing the scene to the authorities.
- Stop immediately, but do not obstruct or impede traffic. The last thing we want is a secondary accident from an inattentive driver.
- Assist anyone injured. Have someone call police. If you're the one calling the police, while waiting to speak with someone, be sure to note what street you're on and the cross street. Look for landmarks that will aid in locating where you're at. Speak slowly, clearly, and factual. For example "A two car accident on 800 block of 64th street requires police and medical help". It's simple, lets the person you're speaking with know what the problem is, and what to do from there. Describing the accident or what happened can come later. For now, let's get help on the way as quickly as possible.
- Gather the names, phone numbers, addresses of other drivers, passengers, witnesses, and (if reasonable) injured persons.
- Secure the make, model, and license numbers of all vehicles involved with the accident. This includes vehicles that may not have damage.
- Take lots of pictures of the scene. Most people have cameras on their phones and if yours has one, use it. Of course, don't block traffic while doing so and be reasonable, but you want to capture the level of damage (or lack of) for potential future use. Things to note include the relative position of vehicles and surroundings.
- Don't hastily accept claim settlements at the scene of an accident. Most personal injury attorneys will speak with you about your case for free. They may or may not want to take the case, but you'll get a good understanding of where you stand and what your rights are.
- Be kind, respectful, calm, courteous and everything your mother taught you when engaging with other parties. This is especially true if they're not and regardless who is at fault. People act in strange ways when stressed and remember that if someone damaged your vehicle, they're likely having one of the worst days of their life. Don't make it worse for them.
- Notify your insurance agent as soon as reasonably possible. If you're a client of 1 Reason Insurance, you know you can call anytime, including weekends.
If your vehicle is damaged as a result of the accident, either your or the other party's insurance may cover the damage. Typically, it depends on who did what, as well as who has what type of coverage. The collision part of your auto coverage usually protects your vehicle if you're the cause of the accident in terms of fixing your vehicle. If you hit an animal on the road, for example a deer caught in your headlights, then actually, your comprehensive coverage comes into play. All else being equal, it's better to hit a deer than a tree. That's because hitting a deer isn't considered an "at-fault" accident, while hitting a tree is.
That's why I advise people to not hit a tree while avoiding a deer because hitting a deer doesn't have the same impact on your driving record (and insurance premium) as hitting a tree.
If you have questions, feel free to call or email us and we'll be happy to help.
Robert Weinstein is a husband, dad, stock market junkie, real estate broker, and of course…Insurance agent. Interests include my family, economics, marketing, technology, real estate, finance/investing, history, and Asia.
Robert’s insurance expertise includes having the designation of Certified in Long-Term Care (CLTC) and assist in asset protection for families with members entering retirement.
Robert is also an accomplished syndicated writer whose work can be found in TheStreet, MainStreet, CNBC, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Seeking Alpha, MSN Money, The Money Show, Stock Saints, Motley Fool, Fidelity, Minyanville, RealMoney Pro, and many national and international newspapers.