Picture this: You’re headed to Lake Michigan at Mequon with your family for a day of fun at the beach when all of a sudden, a truck collides with your car near the waterfront. It causes a huge scrape and dent along your passenger’s side, and your front bumper is almost completely off.
Your day of fun has certainly taken a turn for the worse. Moreover, what do you do now? Do you know how to properly handle a car accident to protect yourself best?
Keep in mind that there is a right way and a wrong way.
Below, we’ve outlined the right steps to take in a situation like this. So after getting your car to a safe location on the side of the road or out of the way, follow these directions:
Contact the Right People
You’ll need to potentially contact three parties after the accident:
- Medical Services: Go around your car (if you have passengers) and check for everyone’s safety. Call out names and make sure that everyone is responsive and can move. Don’t forget yourself! If someone is injured, do not move them. If you’re in doubt about whether an injury constitutes an ambulance call, always make the call anyway.
- The Police: The police always need to be called when a vehicle collision occurs. This is true even for small fender benders because they need to create an accident report.
- Your Insurance Company: Tell them that you’ve been in an accident, ask any pertinent questions about your coverage and start the claims process as soon as possible. They’ll likely have a lot of questions for you, so just follow their lead.
At this point, speak to the other parties involved and use your smartphone or a pad of paper and pencil to write everything down. Get the names of the other driver(s) and their address and phone number. Get the name of their insurance agency and their policy number. Ask the responding officer for his name and badge number, and remember that you are entitled to a copy of the police report. This is a very important document.
If there are witnesses who saw the accident or any security cameras around (from nearby businesses, for example), get their versions of the events recorded. Lastly, take pictures with a phone or digital camera. The more pictures, the better.
Getting Estimates and Handling Your Insurance Claim
Step 1: Arrange for a rental car.
You should have rental car coverage bundled with your car insurance policy. Speak to your agent about arranging a car for your use while you have repairs done on your vehicle.
Step 2: Get an estimate on repairs.
There are three main ways to get estimates for your vehicle.
- See if your insurance company does their own estimates (this is rare but may be the case).
- Go to a preapproved body shop where your estimate will be preapproved through your insurance company.
- Choose your own body shop, get a written estimate, present it to your insurance agency, and wait for adjustments and/or approval.
Step 3: Utilize optional coverage:
Optional coverage generally includes GAP coverage or New Car Replacement coverage. GAP coverage takes care of the difference between your car’s actual cash value and any balance you currently owe on a lease or loan. New Car Replacement coverage can help you replace a totaled car with a new vehicle as long as your car is under a year old and has fewer than 15,000 miles on it.
Get the Right Coverage With Ample Limits
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re limited with your auto insurance coverage. Get the right policy with ample limits by consulting with the right insurance agency today. Contact Doug Hansen & Associates Insurance in Thiensville, WI today to learn about your options.