What should I do after a car accident?

Nobody ever wants to be involved in a car accident, but it's something we may all have to face one day. Knowing what to do, how to behave, and how to go about making a claim to our car insurance carriers is essential to make the process as painless as possible. So, what do you need to know?

Immediately after the accident

You've just had a car accident, what should you be doing?

1. Stay relaxed

It's essential you remain as calm and composed as possible. It's natural to feel scared, shocked, and angry, but you need to make the effort to take long deep breaths and maintain your composure. Remember that the way you behave will influence others - if you're calm, it will help others remain calm. If you're upset, shouting, and angry, there's a higher chance the other people involved will respond the same way.

2. Keep safe

Make sure your car engine is off and turn on your hazard lights, doing what you can to warn traffic of the accident. Don't, however, put yourself in danger. Check on any other people involved to establish first if everyone is accounted for and then to determine any injuries. If someone is injured, the road is blocked, or a party has escaped from the scene you should call the police. If you're ever in doubt about calling the police or not, it's always best to err on the side of caution and do so.

3. Exchange details

With the scene made safe, it's time to exchange details with the other driver(s) involved. Get their full name, address, telephone number, and email if possible. It would also be wise to take as many detailed photographs as possible of the accident, as they may be required later. Take note of the exact location of the accident, and get the numbers/names of any nearby houses or businesses as they too may be necessary.

Making an insurance claim

You don't have to contact your insurance company straight away, but it's better to do it as soon as possible. Most insurance companies require you to make contact within a certain window of time - but don't leave it more than 24 hours just to be safe. When you make contact with your insurance company, make sure you have the relevant details to hand. This includes the registrations of the vehicles involved, the details of the involved parties, any photos of the damage, the accident location, and any other pertinent details that should be taken into consideration, such as time of day/weather.

What happens next?

If the accident was not your fault, the other party's insurance company will pay out depending on the nature of the damage. If your car suffers repairable damage, they may pay the cost to have the vehicle repaired. If the vehicle is concluded as a total loss, otherwise known a "written off" because the damage is too extensive, you will be paid in line with the current market value of the car - this will be in line with depreciation. If your car is determined to be "uneconomical to repair" through the age, mileage, or the vehicles otherwise condition, it may also be written off and you will be compensated. If your vehicle is repaired it must be done so by an approved garage, otherwise, you may not be compensated. Similarly, you must inform the insurer of any modifications done. Your insurance company will be there to take you through each step of the claiming process. All you need to do is make sure they have the relevant information they require, and your claim should be as stress-free and as quick as possible.