What to Do After a Fender Bender
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Minor car accidents, also known as fender benders, are a common occurrence. When auto accidents happen at low speeds, people are often tempted to let things go, not reporting the damage to their insurance companies. However, this is risky as often more damage is done than first thought and you may have a hard time getting insurance claims processed afterwards.
Even if you think there’s no apparent damage, it’s still a good idea to take the following steps after any small fender bender.
1. Pull over to the side of the road
If you can do so safely, move your vehicle off the road or pull over to the side out of the way of traffic. Keeping yourself and others out of harm’s way while you sort things out should be the first priority.
If you have flares in your car, set them out to warn others of the accident scene. Also, make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay. If needed, call an ambulance to assist with injuries, even if they seem minor. Whiplash or concussions are not always evident at first glance. Soft tissue damage may seem insignificant but later require medical attention.
2. Contact the police
Once you’re safely off the roadway, it’s important to call the police. They can send a patrol car to evaluate the situation and complete a police report. The report will assist your insurance company in processing the claim. It also plays an instrumental part in determining who is at fault in the fender bender.
When questioned, answer truthfully with facts only. Do not assume or make excuses for motor vehicle accidents. Your insurance company will handle correspondence with the other parties, including the other driver’s insurance company afterwards.
3. Exchange information
Immediately after you call the police, exchange your contact information with the other people involved in the fender bender or may have witnessed the accident. If you have the ability to take photos, do so and take notes of where and how the damage occurred.
Key information to get from others involved in the accident include driver’s name, insurance company including policy number, vehicle registration, driver’s license number, address, and phone number.
Ask witnesses for their names and phone numbers so the police or insurance companies can contact them for their account of the accident.
4. Call your insurance company
Once you’ve exchanged information and confirmed with the police that they have everything they need, make sure to report the minor accident to your insurance company. No matter who is at fault for the fender bender, your insurance is meant to protect you and your assets, so they need to be informed right away.
Expect your insurance agent to ask details about the incident, get the information received from other parties and the police, and to provide guidance on next steps to getting your vehicle repaired. The insurance agent will also start processing your claim.
5. Repair your vehicle
While you’re speaking with your insurance company, they will provide information for getting your car repaired. This may include getting estimates and recommending vehicle repair shops. Some insurance companies require you use repair shops in their network that they have agreements with. Others allow you to use a shop of your choosing, but there may be limitations on how much they will reimburse you. Also, be prepared to pay your deductible. It is important to get a clear understanding from your insurance company of what is covered so you know what to expect.
Being involved in an accident can be frightening, no matter how minor. Knowing ahead of time what to do after a fender bender can go a long way in helping to alleviate some of your worry and stress. A checklist to keep in your glovebox as a reference in case of an accident can help as well. Processing your claim and repairing your car as quickly as possible will get you back on the road sooner and safely.