Getting in a car accident is a stressful situation. We’ve provided a checklist of the steps you should take if and when you’re in a car crash.
Car accidents are surprisingly common in the US. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), there were nearly 6.3 million police-reported vehicle crashes in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Because car accidents are unfortunately so common, it pays to be prepared.
It is always a good idea to review your car insurance policy during the renewal period. An auto insurance policy renewal usually happens annually or semi-annually. Make sure to read through your policy’s provisions to see if there are any changes to the policy, or changes to your insurance needs since you last renewed. You want to make sure that you have coverage that’s appropriate for your current needs.
You might also consider purchasing a newer, safer vehicle. A newer model vehicle can make a big difference while on the road. For one, they are equipped with the most advanced safety features. You also might be able to get a discount for purchasing a safer car—check with your provider for more information.
And as always, make sure you have your insurance information, license, and vehicle registration with you at all times in case an accident occurs.
In the unfortunate event that you get into an automobile accident, here are some guidelines to follow:
A: It often depends on the company, but it is likely that your premiums will go up with every claim you file. Your carrier will be more inclined to increase your premiums if you’re at fault in an accident.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, you can see an increase in your premiums for up to three years from the time you file a claim. Check with your insurer for more information.
A: This is a tricky one. If you were the only one involved in the accident or crash and the deductible will be more than the damages, it might not be worth it. You also might not want to file a claim if the damage is minor, and you have filed multiple claims with your insurance company recently. This is a surefire reason for them to raise your premiums.
However, here’s where not filing a claim can backfire. Say another party is involved but the accident and damages are minor. You decide not to file a claim. About a month later you get a notice saying that the other party has decided to sue. Without having filed a claim, you could be liable for the other party’s damages and possible injury.
It is your dilemma to assess, but if you are worried your insurer might raise your rates, you might want to shop around and compare insurance quotes.
A: If you can’t get a picture of the other vehicle’s license plate when they drive off, see if there are any witnesses that caught it. If not, you might want to look and see if there are any security or traffic cameras in the area that might have caught the accident. If so, you can contact the owners of the cameras to find out more information on how to get ahold of their footage.
Without any information about the other car, it might be hard to file a claim against them. Your best bet would be to file a police report and provide as much information as you can about the incident.
If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, your insurer should cover your medical expenses and automobile repairs.
A: No. Don’t admit to it being your fault while at the scene of the accident. Leave law enforcement or your insurance adjuster to determine who’s in the wrong. There are a lot of factors that go into the investigation, and you should leave it to the professionals to do the determining.
If you admit you’re responsible right after the accident, the other party might use this against you and sue you for fault or negligence.
A: Most insurers will agree that you should if you don’t have another car at home. This is where your insurance provider will give you a rental car if your car becomes unusable from an accident and needs to go to the shop.
Rental reimbursement insurance will be around a few dollars to $20 added to your monthly premiums. For more information, check with your insurer directly.
A: As stated above, this is where uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist (UM/ UIM) protection comes into play. It will cover any medical expenses and car repairs up to your policy limit.
A: This depends on the state you live in. In most states, you need to file a report if the property damage exceeds a certain amount, or if someone gets injured or loses their life. Check with the DMV for your state’s specific requirements.
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