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Car Accidents: An Insurance Survival Guide

Car Accidents: An Insurance Survival Guide

According to statistics at the Association for Safe International Road Travel, just over 2 million people are injured in traffic accidents in the United States each year. Assuming one per accident, that’s nearly 5,500 accidents per day, and that’s just the accidents reported with injuries. How many other are there when you include minor accidents?

As the population ages and the numbers of vehicles on the roads increase, your chances of being in an accident also increase. How can you protect yourself, and what should you do if you are involved in an accident?

Be Prepared

Even if you aren’t a Boy Scout, your motto as a driver should always start with “be prepared.” Before every trip you should try to do the following:

  1. Locate your auto insurance ID card. You should try to have two: one for your wallet and one for your glove compartment. Even if you have an electronic copy on your phone, a hard copy should be available in case you need it.
  2. Keep a notepad and pen in your glove compartment. These will come in handy should you be involved in an accident.
  3. Do a quick visual inspection of your vehicle. Are your tires properly inflated? Is there anything that needs repair or replacement?
  4. Adjust your side and interior mirrors before taking off. They may have been properly adjusted last time you checked, but it’s always a good idea to check again.

For the safety of you and your passengers, make sure you:

  • Wear seatbelts. This includes everyone in the car, including the driver.
  • Keep your hands off the cell phone. Put your phone in hands-free mode, or turn it off until you reach your destination. Talking and driving is dangerous. Texting and driving is worse.
  • Secure all items in the car. Small items can become projectiles in the event of an accident. Use consoles and the glove compartment for loose items. Large items such as luggage or packages should be placed in the trunk whenever possible.
  • Follow the law! It should go without saying, but following local and state laws with regard to speed and posted signage may help prevent accidents.

You’ve Had An Accident. Now What?

Once you’ve had an accident, you may be shaken up, or unsure what to do next. Here are some tips:

  1. Make sure your vehicle has come to a complete stop. Put it in park. Take a deep breath.
  2. In some states, if you are able to move the vehicle from the roadway, you should move it to a safe nearby location as quickly as possible.
  3. Assess injuries of passengers, the other driver and any pedestrians and then call 911. This allows you to alert the 911 operator if medical services are needed, and will also alert the police and other emergency crews.
  4. Get your insurance card out, and that notepad and pen we told you about earlier. Gather as much information as possible including vehicle descriptions, tag numbers, location, driver information, and any details you can remember about the accident.
  5. Try to get pictures of damage with your cell phone, as these may be needed later for your insurance claim.

And last but not least:

  1. Report the accident to your insurance carrier.

This should be done after 911 has been called, and may be something that can be done while you are waiting on the police to do their investigation of the accident. The claims reporting number should appear on your auto ID card or in your insurance app on your phone.

After the Accident

Once you have filed the claim on your accident, your insurance company should take the lead on handling the claim. Your insurance company claims department may call to ask for additional information or to verify details once they receive the police report.

Should you be sued by the other party for injury or damage, your insurance carrier will provide for your legal defense. If you were not at fault, your insurance company will work with the insurance company of the at-fault driver to recoup any payments made on your behalf.

Your insurance broker can also be helpful in the event of a claim, working with your insurance company to be sure that you are provided prompt service.

Should you have any questions on how to file a claim or whether you have sufficient coverage for your vehicles, contact your broker. We are here to help.

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