It’s important to follow the correct steps after a car accident. Doing so can reduce injuries, help ensure quick settlement of your car insurance claim, and keep you out of trouble with the law.
The stress of an accident can make it hard to remember what to do. This checklist guides you through the steps you should take following an auto accident.
• We recommend printing a copy of the Wreck Check Auto Accident Checklist and keeping a copy in your vehicle.
Immediately After the Accident
- Stay safe. Assess the situation for your immediate safety. Turn on vehicle hazard lights.
- Remain in the car if there is a risk of injury or if moving might put you at risk of further injury.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident! However, if your car is creating a safety hazard or obstructing traffic, move to a safer spot.
- Determine if there are any injuries.
- Call 911 immediately to report the accident.
- If needed, request help at the scene.
- Follow any instructions the police give you.
- Call your agent for advice on how to proceed. OR call your insurance provider (check your insurance ID card for a phone number.)
- Follow any instructions given to you by your agent/insurance provider.
- Ask if they have a Mobile Application. Some insurance companies now use mobile applications to help consumers file claims online and record accident details right at the scene.
- If needed, request a tow through your insurance company.
- Make note of the tow company name and location to which your vehicle is towed.
Gathering Information at the Scene
- Be courteous and polite, but do not admit fault, even if you think you may be at fault.
- Take the names and car insurance information of any other drivers involved in the accident.
- Get names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
- Provide your name and insurance information to the police and to other driver(s).
- Protect Your Identity - give out ONLY the following information:
- Your name.
- Your vehicle’s make, model, year, color and VIN.
- Your insurance information
- Name of your insurance company.
- Agent's name and phone.
- Policy number.
- DO NOT allow your license or registration to be photographed.
- DO NOT provide your address or contact information to other drivers, passengers, or witnesses.
Documenting the Accident at the Scene
- If you have a smart phone or camera, take photos to document the scene. Include pictures of:
- License plates of involved vehicles.
- Damage to your vehicle.
- Damage to other vehicles.
- Damage to property other than vehicles.
- Objects at the scene, including accident debris, skid marks, fallen branches, etc.
- Street signs or other landmarks to identify the accident location.
- Any contributing factors to the accident, such as obscured traffic signs.
- Fill out an accident form or write down as many details as possible, including the following:
- Description of the accident.
- Description of injuries and damage.
- Traffic conditions.
- Weather conditions.
- Details of police or emergency involvement.
After the Accident: Next Steps
- Get a copy of any accident reports or incidents reports filed by the police and other drivers to assist in settling your claim.
- Follow instructions from your auto insurance agent.
- Document everything.
- Write down names of any investigators, police officers or insurance claims adjusters.
- Whenever you speak to an insurance company representative, note the date, the name of the person, and a brief description of the conversation.
- Keep receipts of all expenditures, including repair costs, transportation costs, and medical treatments and expenses.
To be prepared for the unfortunate situation of finding yourself involved in an auto accident, do two important things right now:
- Have your agent and/or insurance company number(s) easily accessible: add it to your cell phone contact list or keep the number in your vehicle’s glove compartment.
- Print the Wreck Check Auto Accident Checklist and keep a copy in your glove compartment.