Karen was recently rear ended on the 405 freeway during rush hour traffic. Thank goodness she is okay though her 2011 Mini Clubman did sustain over $8,500 in damages. If you are ever in an accident, you will discover it is important to know what to do.
The following steps on what to do after a car accident will hopefully save you money, time and frustration.
Determine the Extent of Damage or Injuries
Determine the extent of damage and if there are any injuries that need immediate medical attention is common sense. If you have a phone that has a camera take pictures of the damage from as many angles as possible. It is important to take photos of not only your car but all vehicles involved in the accident
File an Accident Report with the Police
Even in a minor accident it is important to make sure there is a legal accident report. First thing Karen did was call 911. Even though the young woman that hit Karen stated it was her fault, do not leave the scene until the police file a full report. Even if there seems to be little visible damage, in our case the wheel’s axle had been bent. Remember talk about the accident with the police and your insurance agent only.
Get the Facts at the Accident Scene
It is important to get names, address, and phone numbers of everyone involved in the accident. A description of the car and license plate number can also be helpful, but make sure you also get their insurance company and the vehicle identification number of their car. Again that camera on your phone can come in handy by taking a photo of the other driver’s license, insurance, and registration
File the Claim Immediately
Call your agent or insurance company's 800-number immediately. You will want to file the claim as soon as possible with your insurance company. Even if it is not your fault, your insurance company will handle the claim process as your advocate.
Prepare for a Possible Call from the Other Insurance Company
If there is a dispute between the two parties in the accident, you may get a call from the other driver’s insurance company asking for your version of what happened at the accident scene. If this happens make sure you document everything you say and the name of the customer service agent you talked to. We were lucky that the other driver admitted fault to their insurance company.
Getting your Car Fixed
Looks can be deceiving so if you had body damage to your vehicle, find out if it needs to be towed. After your claim is approved, you will likely get a call from your insurance company about sending an insurance adjuster out to assess the damage or ask you to send your car to a pre-approved shop to get it fixed.
Watch out for the insurance company’s pre-approved repair shops. Karen’s car was only a year old and we discovered it had to be repaired by a certified Mini Cooper repair shop to maintain her warranty. Call your dealership to find out, it could save you money in the long run.
While you wait for your car to be repaired (ours took over a month) check with your insurance company on rental car coverage (time period and cost per day). Ask your insurance company how payment will be processed before you pay for repairs. In our case, the driver’s insurance company paid our insurance company. Then in turn our insurance company paid the repair shop minus our deductible. A separate check for the deductible from our insurance company was issued to us since Karen was not at fault.
Car accidents can be scary but if you follow the abovementioned steps and stay calm, you may have a less costly and stressful experience.