As much as we try to avoid them, car accidents happen. But whether it’s a small scratch or a more serious crash, drivers are sometimes unprepared to deal with the immediate aftermath of an accident.

Before you can even start thinking about calling your insurance company, the most important thing to do is stay calm and evaluate if you or anyone else in the car is injured. Take a deep breath, then ask yourself if anyone needs to go to the emergency room or if it’s time to call 911. 

No two accidents are quite the same, so in this article, we’ll explore some of the different scenarios surrounding car accidents. One main factor to keep in mind is whether or not you were at fault. We’ll discuss the steps you should take for not-at-fault accidents versus at-fault accidents—and how your car insurance comes into play. 

No matter the scenario, car insurance is designed to cover situations like these so that you don’t end up in financial distress after an accident. That’s why finding car insurance that’s affordable and appropriate for your needs is so important. To find the car insurance that’s right for you, browse Insurify. Insurify makes it easy for drivers to compare multiple free car insurance quotes quickly and easily so that you can find affordable coverage in no time.

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6 Steps You Should Take Immediately Post-Accident

You’ve just experienced a situation every driver tries to avoid: an accident. At this juncture, it’s completely normal to be a bit panicked. First and foremost, you should take a deep breath. Then, when you feel ready, you can take the following steps:

1. Stay on the scene

No matter the severity of the accident, you should stay on the scene and get to safety. If possible, try to move your car out of the way of traffic. Then, turn off your engine, turn on your hazard lights, and if you have road flares in your emergency car kit, use them to warn other drivers to slow down when passing the accident scene.

2. Take down the other driver’s contact information and insurance information

Now it’s time to collect information. One of the most important things to do is exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Get the driver’s first and last name, their phone number, the name of the insurance company they use, their policy number, their driver’s license number, and the make and model of their car. If there were any eyewitnesses at the scene, try to get their contact information as well. 

3. Take plenty of pictures of every car involved

During the claims process, you will also need visual information. Use your smartphone camera to take plenty of pictures of the accident scene. Be sure to get a picture of the license plates involved, as license plate numbers will be a key piece of information going forward. The more photos you get from different angles, the more information your insurance claims adjuster will have to work with.

4. File a police report 

In some states, it’s legally required for a driver to file a police report after an auto accident. Regardless of the size of your accident, it’s a good idea to call 911 and have a police officer come fill out an accident report, which will be an important reference during the claims process. When the officer comes, be sure to get their name and badge number in case your insurance company needs to contact them after you file your claim. 

5. Visit the hospital for injuries 

In some cases, you or one of the passengers in your car might be injured. If so, call 911. Once you’re at the hospital, you’ll need to figure out if your insurance policy covers personal injuries. In some states, personal injury protection is required. This extension on your insurance policy covers the medical bills of you or any passengers in your car, regardless of fault. If personal injury protection isn’t coming into play, your health insurance may cover medical bills.

6. Notify your insurance agent and start the claims process

You might find that you’re uninjured and able to call your auto insurance company while at the scene of the accident. This enables you to get pictures for the claims process right away and communicate with your insurance agent so that they get the exact information they need. 

Keep in mind that some car accidents result in no damage or serious injuries. Even if this is the case, you’ll want to exchange information with the other driver and take some pictures. As you start the claims process, having lots of information on hand will save you plenty of stress down the road. 

What if the accident wasn’t your fault?

Sometimes an accident is nothing more than bad luck—and the result of another driver’s mistake. Here are a few things to keep in mind if that’s the case:

  • You should still file a claim. At the scene of the accident, you shouldn’t be worrying about whose fault it is. Just collect the information you need and trust that the adjuster will make the right call. After all, most at-fault incidents (e.g., rear-ending, not obeying traffic signals, etc.) are pretty cut and dry. Regardless, call your insurance company and file a claim.
  • The at-fault driver pays for the accident. In most states, the at-fault driver will be identified, and they will have to pay for damages after an accident. But a handful of states are known as “no-fault” states, which means your car insurance company will pay for damages up to a certain limit no matter what. 
  • In some cases, your insurance rates may increase. Believe it or not, filing a claim for a not-at-fault accident could still lead to an increase in your monthly premiums. If that’s the case, you might want to start shopping for a new provider that won’t raise your rates in such a scenario. 
  • What if the accident was a hit-and-run? A hit-and-run is an unfortunate situation for any driver. Certain types of coverage make it easier to handle the financial impact of a hit-and-run. In most cases, collision coverage will help you cover any damage to your car after a hit-and-run, though you still might have to pay a deductible. Uninsured motorist coverage, which covers car repair and medical expenses if the other driver doesn’t have car insurance, could also be used in the event of a hit-and-run.
  • What if the other driver doesn’t have car insurance? Getting into an accident with a driver who doesn’t have car insurance can make things more complicated. That’s why it might be a good idea to get uninsured motorist coverage, which can cover damage to your vehicle and medical bills if you get in an accident with someone without coverage.

What if the accident was your fault?

Sometimes an accident might be a result of your own mistakes, putting you at fault for the damage and injuries sustained. In this scenario, there are a few things you should know. 

First of all, it’s very important that you stay on the scene and exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Trying to avoid blame or obscure information will only lead to more trouble down the road. Be honest, communicate clearly, and file a claim with your insurance company. You will likely be on the hook for most costs associated with the accident and will likely see an increase in your insurance premiums. 

Just how much your insurance premiums go up after filing an at-fault claim may be a function of your insurance policy

If your insurance premium goes up after an accident, you may want to compare quotes and find a cheaper policy. Insurify lets you compare car insurance quotes side by side and read reviews from other drivers who have been in similar situations. Then, you can make an informed choice and find cheaper car insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions: Car Accidents

What to do after a car accident that wasn’t your fault?

After any accident, you first want to check for injuries to yourself or any passengers in your car. Then, you must exchange information with the other driver and take pictures of the accident scene. You’ll want to file a claim with your car insurance company, even if the accident wasn’t your fault. Then, insurance claims adjusters from your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company will work on fairly covering the costs of the accident.

What to do after a minor car accident?

Just because a car accident is minor doesn’t mean you should cut corners. It’s still a good idea to collect information and file a claim with your insurance company. After all, you might have a bit of damage to your vehicle that you want to repair. Filing a claim can help you cover these minor repairs. To file a claim, you often need to call your insurance agent or log on to your insurer’s website. Some providers offer a mobile app that makes it easy to upload pictures from the accident scene and enter crucial information about the accident.

Conclusion: Good coverage is crucial after an accident

Even if you’re only dealing with a minor fender bender, a car accident can be a major headache for any driver. Having a robust but affordable insurance policy helps make a difficult process that much smoother. And working with an insurance company that makes the claims process stress-free is another important factor to consider.

You might find that your monthly rate has increased too much after filing a claim. Or you might realize you need more robust coverage going forward, like medical payments coverage or uninsured motorist coverage. And it might become abundantly clear to you that you’re just paying too much for car insurance.

If that’s the case, Insurify can help. When you compare rates and coverage on Insurify, you can find robust coverage at a price that works for your budget. The days of jumping from site to site trying to find the right policy are over—now all the information you need is in one place on Insurify

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Updated July 14, 2020

Mark Steinbach is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to his years of work as a copywriter, he is also a TV writer with a degree in English from Harvard University. When he isn't writing, he can be found playing tennis or doing crossword puzzles.