Q&A: In case of an accident
We spend a lot of time in our cars. While no one wants to be involved in an accident, the reality is that accidents happen to even the best drivers. In fact, Forbes estimates that most drivers will have 3-4 accidents in their lifetime.1
If you are involved in an accident, suddenly there is a lot to think about. If the collision is just a fender bender, should you call the police? What happens if your child is the one involved? And when is the right time to let your insurer know?
It’s important for all drivers, especially new drivers, to know what to do in an accident, no matter who is at fault. The best way to prepare for the unexpected is to know the proper steps to take. Robert Young, Auto Physical Damage Claim Manager at Berkley One, knows what to do. Here, he shares some tips that can help you stay calm and collected in this situation.
Q: I was just in an accident. What do I do?
First and foremost, make sure everyone involved is okay. This is the most important step. Check on everyone in your vehicle, as well as any other vehicles involved in the accident.
Once you’ve checked that everyone is safe, evaluate where you are in the roadway. Move out of the center of traffic and pull over to the side if it is safe to do so. Stay out of traffic if you are outside of your car, and be mindful of any glass or auto parts in the road.
Q: Should I call 911 every time?
I always recommend for people to call 911 in an accident. It’s important to get the police out to the scene, because they can help give an objective perspective in a situation where emotions and tensions can be high. When police are not involved and a claim is investigated later on, it’s possible for stories to change. Calling 911 can help remove ambiguity. From a claims standpoint, it can really help.
Q: What information do I need to get from the other driver?
Keep it simple. You’ll want to secure:
- Name and phone numbers of all parties involved
- Car information, including license plate number, make and model
- Insurance policy information, including policy number and contact information
You want to get as much information as possible at the scene. Once any other vehicle(s) involved leave, it can become difficult to follow up for information.
Q: What should I have in my car and on my person to be prepared?
My son is a 17-year-old driver. There are three things I tell him to always keep in his car. They can prove invaluable if you are in an accident.
- Spare camera: Make sure you have a way to take pictures at the scene. Keeping a disposable camera in your car is a great idea. Sure, you can rely on your phone’s camera, but if your phone loses battery or is damaged, a spare is a great backup. Photos can really help with the investigation at the time of an insurance claim.
- Insurance information: Keep insurance information (and roadside assistance information such as AAA, if applicable) in three places: your glove box, your wallet and saved in your phone. That way, you have multiple ways to access the information you need. It helps if you can’t access your glove compartment in an accident, if you lock your wallet in the vehicle, or if you forget your phone at home!
- First aid and emergency kits: Finally, have a basic first aid kit and emergency kit in your trunk. You can visit an auto repair shop such as AutoZone for a basic emergency kit, which should also include hazard lights. Hazard lights can alert other drivers of where you are (for example, if you are stopped on the shoulder of the road), and can be useful in a situation where your vehicle breaks down or you are in an accident at night. It’s a measure for your safety, as well as the safety of others.
Q: When should I contact my insurer?
It depends on the circumstances, but you’ll generally want to call your insurer as soon as possible.
The sooner you report a claim, the better. That way, your insurer gets the most accurate information, and can start investigating the accident as quickly as possible.
Q: How can Berkley One help?
If you’re insured with Berkley One, we can help in quite a few ways.
When you call in a claim, we’re here to make the process easy and help you get back to your vehicle with the least possible interruption.
If your loss is covered, we’ll help you through the process quickly. In fact, we’re all about communication. We want you to know what’s going on throughout the process from accident to claim payment to repair.
Arranging for repairs after an accident is another thing you don’t have to worry about. We can connect you to our PlusOneSM Service Network, which can send your appraisal request directly to the repair facility to complete your estimate.
Q: Any other tips?
Before you even sit in the driver’s seat, you can take steps to make your car is as safe as it can be.
When you’re shopping for a new car, take safety ratings into account (we have a great guide to understanding them!) and look into what is best for you and your family. It’s also important to check your tires and make sure they are properly maintained. This often-overlooked step can make a huge difference in your car’s performance and safety.
Car accidents can be confusing—but when you know the steps to take, the process can be simple. We’re here to help.
Robert Young is Auto Physical Damage Claim Manager at Berkley One (a Berkley Company).