What to do after a car accident

Cars crash every day. If injuries are involved, emergency responders are the first to be called, but what if it’s just a minor mishap that’s more inconvenient than life threatening? First, stay calm. Then, take notes.

“Most of us carry a camera around on our phones, so it’s a great way for you to document what happened,” said Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks. “Take pictures of your car; take pictures of the scene, because you can have those to share with your insurance company or the police, for that matter.”

Your photos should help tell the story of what happened. They can also expedite an insurance claim.

“The best things that can be shown in a photo that you can get at the time of the accident is something that will show us several things: the points of impact on the car; any road markers that there may be, such as a turn lane, traffic lights; getting a snapshot of the license plate of the other party; and very importantly, getting a snapshot of their insurance identification card,” said insurance agent Craig Hoge.

In some wrecks, like a rear–end collision, it seems easy to assign blame, but don’t be pressured into accepting responsibility until all the facts are gathered.

“You don’t ever want to admit fault because in many cases, there’s other factors that have happened in an accident that you are not aware of. Somebody, maybe, that you don’t realize that it’s a no turn on red and they’ve turned, which can cause, at worst, contributory liability,” Hoge added.

“Don’t sign anything at an accident scene unless it’s something the police are asking you to sign. What you want to do in that scenario is you just want to be exchanging your information with the other driver. Exchange your contact information and your insurance information, but leave the rest of the documentation to the police,” said Hicks.

Angie says to expect an increase in your insurance premium if you have more than two significant claims in a short period of time. The decision to file a claim is simple: if your damage costs less than your deductible, pay for the repair yourself.