Accidents are a scary thing and, for the most part, we all try to avoid them as best we can. But the reality of life is that they’re all-too common and millions of people are involved in them each year.
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Accidents are a scary thing and, for the most part, we all try to avoid them as best we can. But the reality of life is that they’re all-too common and millions of people are involved in them each year. If this is your first time, every part of the process can be extremely daunting and emotions can easily heighten to extremes, so let this be your guide on staying calm post-accident:
Make sure that you and anyone else in the vehicle is okay.
This is extremely important and should be the top priority after an accident. If there is a single doubt as to anyone’s health, call 9-1-1 as soon as possible. Every second counts.
Get your vehicle into a safe location.
Hopefully, at this point, you’ve determined that no injuries have been sustained and can move on to step two. Wherever your accident took place, try to get your car as far away from other vehicles as possible. It might be trickier if you’re on the highway or if either car has been severely damage, but just do the best you can do to stay out of other vehicles’ ways… for your safety and theirs!
Call the police.
By now, the police should have shown up on their own, but if not, calling them for help in recording what happened is the next step. It is important to have them there to document the events, especially if the accident is on the larger side of the spectrum.
Exchange information with the other driver(s).
If the other person(s) is as calm, cool, and collected as you are, and you feel it is safe to go speak with them, it is important to get their name, phone number/email and insurance information. If the other driver(s) seems too heated to speak to or you feel uneasy, asking the police for their information is also a good option to consider.
Contact your insurance provider and let them know what happened.
A great insurance company will contact you as soon as they see that you’ve been involved in an accident, but it is of the utmost importance to not wait around after all has been cleared with police and the other individual(s). Informing your insurance carrier of the events that have occurred and starting the claims process immediately will help ease any stress that may come along in the following days. They are there to help guide you through this sometimes confusing process and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Know your rights.
Once you start the process of evaluating your claims from the accident, it is really important stay informed and know exactly what you are entitled to as well as how to defend them. The more you know, the better and the chances of you getting taken advantage of will all but disappear. As emotional as an accident is and how scary it can be, it is important to remember that to be informed is to have power and control over a situation that may seem entirely out of control.
In addition to these steps, the post-accident process can be yet another trial you’ll have to go through. Here are some common questions answered for you before they even cross your mind:
Who pays for my damage?
This depends on several factors and could have a wide range of answers. First thing to remember and consider is how much and what kind of coverage you have exactly. Second thing to think about is who caused it and what kind of coverage the other person has. These all affect who is responsible for paying for the damage. As long as you have insurance and collision coverage, your insurance company will pay for your damage. If the other driver is the one at fault and they do have the right type of coverage, then their company will take care of it. However, if they are not insured or if they don’t have collision, chances are your company will be the one to pay for the damages. And if neither of you have insurance, then it’s up to you to figure it out.
How does the deductible play a role (i.e. what do I cover and what does my carrier cover)?
The answer here, again, all depends on one key factor: who was at fault. If you were not, then you don’t pay a cent and the insurance company covers it, but if you were at fault, then you’ll have to pay the deductible. And if you are half at-fault, you pay half the deductible while the insurance company “picks up the tab” so to speak.
What do I need to know if I get into a lawsuit and what is bodily injury protection?
Bodily injury protection is very important as it can protect you financially in the event that you are found at-fault in an accident that has resulted in physical injury to the other person. Whether it is a minor scrape or a death, you will be held responsible for those payments related to these injuries such as a funeral, lost income, and pain and suffering as determined by a judge. It does not pay for your own physical damages. A great rule to follow in regards to this is to purchase the highest amount that you can afford. If someone sues you for costs related to an injury incurred during the accident, you could lose your home, your belongings, your car, and your money if you don’t have enough bodily injury protection to cover the costs.
In terms of property damage, what would the insurance company cover?
This is the same concept as bodily injury protection with a few changes. It is related to another person’s property you have damaged during an accident where you have been found to be at least partially at-fault. What exactly is covered differs from company to company, but generally, it covers repair and/or replacement of the other person’s car and/or personal property, such as their house, fence, etc.
What is the process in applying for or checking if accident forgiveness is offered?
Accident forgiveness is a feature that has the insurance company “forgive” you for an at-fault accident. This means that it won’t negatively affect or raise your premium. Do note, however, that this does not always imply that they will forgive all your accidents. Generally, it is only done on your first at-fault accident or if your driving record is entirely clean pre-accident. To apply, or see if your carrier offers accident forgiveness, it is best to inquire directly with your agent to get the most accurate information as possible. Also, remember that if you do qualify for accident forgiveness, and it does not affect your policy, that does not mean it disappears from your driving record as that is not connected to your insurance company.
How do I dispute a claim if my carrier finds me at fault?
If your carrier as well as the other driver has found you at fault but you are not, you have every right to file a lawsuit in court in order to seek a determination of liability and damages. With proper evidence and following all steps carefully, you could win the case and present this to the insurance company at which point they would reverse it on their terms from at-fault to no fault.
Hopefully you’ll never have to use these tips, but sometimes accidents are simply unavoidable. The best thing you can do right now is to arm yourself with this knowledge. Being able to have this information in your brain if the time ever comes can help bring you a sense of confidence and comfort in those moments of distress.