You’re on your way, and suddenly, BAM. The sound of your car making contact with another knocks you out of driving mode and a panic sets in… What now?
Auto accidents aren’t fun, and they can bring about a mess of questions about what to do, dealing with insurance, filling out a police report, and the extent of the damage to your vehicle. Unfortunately, auto accidents are relatively common. If you’re involved in one, keep the following in mind.
At the Scene of the Accident
The most important thing to do when an accident occurs is make sure that every driver, passenger, or pedestrian involved is okay. Usually, it’s a good idea to call an ambulance and have everyone looked at immediately, but sometimes injuries don’t appear for days or weeks after the crash.
Find your documents – You should always have your driver’s license, proof of current auto insurance, and your vehicle registration with you when you’re driving.
Take photos – If possible, take photos of the accident as soon as possible after it happens.
Clear the road – It’s best to move the vehicles out of the way of traffic, and to place flares or cones around the scene so that other drivers are warned.
Exchange information – Exchange information with the other drivers, including names, contact info and insurance info.
Contact the police – In most cases, it’s either legally required or in your best interest to contact the police, especially in a serious accident.
Following an Accident
Even if you manage to deal with the police and the other drivers without much difficulty and there are no major injuries, you still may have to work with your insurance company and a collision repair shop to repair your vehicle.
Depending on where you live and which insurance company you are working with, your insurance company may or may not try to persuade you to work with a specific collision repair shop. In most cases they cannot force you to to to a specific shop, even if they make it more difficult to go through other shops.
If your vehicle can be driven, you may need to take it to a shop for an estimate. If it’s not, your insurance company will likely have an estimator come to your vehicle.
Once you have the estimate, you can work with your collision repair technicians to determine the best way to repair the damage. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
• OEM parts vs aftermarket parts – Original equipment manufacturer parts, aftermarket parts, and recycled parts all have their advantages and disadvantages, from cost to quality to design.
• Additional damage – If additional damage is found during the repair process, make sure to keep your insurance company in the loop.