If you’re in an accident
What you should do:
- Stop at once & identify yourself. Ensure that all parties are OK and notify the police and emergency services as appropriate.
- Show your driver’s license and registration to the other driver, the injured persons, and to any police officer.
- Write a complete description of the accident as soon as possible. If possible, take pictures, even if this means returning to the scene of the accident at a later time.
- Notify your insurance company, even if the claim appears small and there are no apparent injuries. Settling the claim yourself is dangerous. Follow all prescribed procedures when reporting an accident to your insurance company.
- Report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days if the damage exceeds $1000.00. You can pick up an accident report from any police station fill it out & mail it to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Keep a copy for your records.
- Be aware of the “Appraisal Clause” in your insurance policy. This could provide a means for fair settlement if the insurance company and the body shop cannot agree on what the repairs should cost.
- Have even minor damage repaired. Letting your car go unrepaired can cost you in the long run. Dents & rust spots deduct from the resale or trade-in value of your car. There may even be “invisible” structural damage which could make it unsafe to drive. You will pay for it eventually, so drive a car that’s in first class condition now.
What you shouldn’t do:
- Do not discuss responsibility.
- Do not discuss the circumstances of the accident with anyone except the police and a positively identified representative of your insurance company.
- Don’t allow your car to be towed to a repair shop you are not familiar with. Don’t authorize repairs by signing a towing release unless you have decided to have your car repaired by the shop your car is being towed to. Read and understand all papers before you sign them. Most states mandate that a towing company must take your car to your chosen location unless you are injured and removed from the scene by ambulance.
- Never give a signed statement to the claims adjuster representing the other driver’s insurance company. The same goes for a phone recording. This information may be used against you in court.
- Don’t accept a check for the repair of your car until you’re sure it covers all necessary repairs. As the owner, you are the person who is responsible for having your car repaired to your satisfaction. Choosing a quality repair shop is an important decision in assuring your satisfaction.
- Don’t be fooled by the “lowest estimate”. There is a big difference in body shops. A low bid could reflect an incomplete job. When some items ( such as alignment) are overlooked on a repair, the consequences to the driver could be serious. An improperly repaired car, especially one with heavy structural damage, is like a time bomb waiting to go off. Exercise your right to determine which shop will repair your car. Make sure every detail has been attended to and repaired to your complete satisfaction before signing any insurance company release.