Being involved in a car accident can be devastating in many ways. Even minor accidents can be stressful when you are at fault. Nothing adds more stress to the situation than knowing you are the one who caused it. On top of having to take care of repairs to your vehicle and any injuries you sustained, you will have to deal with the other parties involved. Dealing with your car insurance company will make matters worse if you don’t have the proper coverage.
Steps to take after causing a car accident:
1. Check For Injuries and Call Police
Losing your vehicle can be disastrous, but it’s nothing compared to injuries caused to you or the other parties involved in the accident. After the accident, determine if anyone is injured and call 911. Even if everyone seems fine, it is always best to have a medical professional check for injuries that are not as obvious.
2. Move Vehicles, If Possible
If the vehicles involved in the accident can still operate, get them out of the way if they are impeding traffic or are putting you and anyone else in danger. Getting them off of the road is important to avoid causing more accidents or getting hit by oncoming traffic. Get away from any vehicle that appears to be leaking gas and in danger of exploding. If you have flares or emergency triangles, put them up to warn other vehicles in the area.
3. Exchange Information
Each state has laws that vary on what type of information drivers should exchange with each other after an accident. In some cases, all you need to do is provide your name and the information from your insurance policy for all drivers involved. It is best not to interact more than necessary with the other driver, and never admit guilt for the accident or place blame on the other driver. If you are able, other pieces of information to gather can include witness contact information, the police report number, phone numbers of other drivers, name and phone number of the police officer and photos of the damage to the vehicles and accident scene.
4. Call Insurance Company
If you are involved in an at-fault car accident, chances are good that your car insurance premiums will increase when your policy gets renewed. Insurance carriers are the ones who determine who is at fault for the accident and can surcharge your insurance premiums if you receive a traffic violation for the accident. Some insurance companies offer accident forgiveness if you’ve gone a certain number of years with no insurance claims. This is something to determine before, not after, getting into a car accident.
5. Determine Coverage And Deductibles
After being involved in a car accident that is your fault, you will wonder what your coverage will cover and how much your deductible will be. If you have purchased collision coverage, the damage to your vehicle is going to be covered by your policy. To get the claim accepted, you have to pay your deductible. Your deductible is predetermined when you sign up for your insurance policy. In some states, your policy also covers the cost of damage to the vehicle of the driver who is not at fault. Some states obtain coverage for injuries and damage to the vehicles from the policy of the at-fault party. Other states may look to their policies regardless of who is considered at-fault.
6. Consider Switching Insurance Companies
The best way to avoid car insurance increases for an at-fault accident is to purchase accident forgiveness. However, if you do not have it on your policy and get into an accident, you may need to shop around to find a company that offers a better rate for drivers with less than perfect records.
Being involved in a car accident can be scary. Remember to breathe and ensure everyone’s safety before worrying about damage to your vehicle. If you need help determining who is at fault for the accident, consider hiring the help of a qualified accident attorney.