The hours after a crash are frustrating and confusing. It’s very likely that you need to call your insurance company, and they’re going to ask you a lot of questions, but are they totally looking out for you?
Here’s some quick tips to consider when making that dreaded call.
- Don’t start by assigning blame (or admitting blame). Your best defense is to give your insurance company as much detail and factual information as you can. Don’t be afraid to make a short video or voice recording while the memory is fresh in your mind. (assuming you are safely off the road)
- Damage comes in three forms, damage to your car, damage to their car or cars, damage to property, and physical injury to your or others. Some insurance companies have different claims departments for physical injuries than automobile claims. Grab you cell phone and get as many photographs as you need to document all these types of damage. It will be handy when you partner your description of the accident with your photos.
- Look for witnesses who weren’t involved in the accident. Collect more statements and contact information than you think you need because a lot of people don’t really want to get pulled into it. People will go so far as to give you wrong names and contact info. When possible text them your number so you can hear if it dings their phone. Remember that your insurance company takes a lot of claims and may actually come across the same witness to several accidents, which could change how they interpret what’s going on.
- AAA recommends collecting from and providing to other drivers with the following information:
- Full name and phone number
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers
- Company name and contact information for their insurance company
- Insurance policy number
- Names and contact information for any passengers
- Basic information about their vehicle — make, model, year and color
- With all the emotions and adrenaline take a step back and remember that this is why you have insurance. To err is human. Your rates may not even go up. Your car will car will be fixed. This is all an inconvenience like taxes, but not the end of the world. Likely no matter who is “responsible” for the accident, it’s not really about looking for a “bad guy.” Someone made a mistake. It will all work out.
- Be a little suspect. Accidents do happen every day, but many of them are engineered by con men. Your insurance company will be looking for this type of fraud and will ask questions designed to find it. Before an accident is the best time to gather the information that will ultimately protect you against this type of fraud. Is a vehicle near you already damaged? Is the driver paying more attention to people in cars than to driving their own vehicle? After the accident do they go on the offense trying to create a false narrative for bystanders? Remember, even though you must be calm, you don’t have to be nice and let someone interpret the accident for potential witnesses. This is a good time to say, “I don’t agree with that version of the facts. Lets let the police sort out what happened.”