Steps You Should Take If You Get Into a Car Accident
Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
Sometimes I take for granted the insurance knowledge I’ve acquired over the years. In the case of car accidents, some procedures have changed with new technology, but there are certain things everyone must do. Learn these steps now, so when a car accident happens (and they will), you know what to do.
Step 1: Call the Police
After an accident, your first move should be to call the police. Call 911 if it’s an emergency and the operator can dispatch medical help and the police.
The police officer documents both sides of the story. This becomes an official statement on record and will help determine fault with the insurance companies and decide how the damages are paid.
One of our clients called us a month after an accident occurred. The other driver had admitted his fault and said he would pay for the damages. They decided not to worry about calling the police and just exchanged contact information. Big mistake! When my client got the estimate for repairs and sent it to the other driver, he changed his story and refused to pay.
Don’t be a victim in situations like this. If you know how the system works and follow procedure, you’ll avoid being taken advantage of.
Step 2: Take Photos
As my client’s story proves, accident reports are often a case of “he said, she said.” Photographic evidence may help in determining fault. These days, almost everyone has a cell phone camera. If you don’t have a cell phone camera, buy a disposable camera and keep it in the glove compartment. Take pictures of your car, the other driver’s car, and anything in the area that contributed to the accident.
Step 3: Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance agent and report the accident. People sometimes hesitate to report an accident for fear their premium will rise. But your insurance agent is a helpful third party who will make sure damages are repaired and handle any problems with the other driver’s insurance.
Step 4: Determine How Damages Will Be Paid
There are a few situations where one of the drivers in a car accident is 100 percent at fault: pulling out of a parking spot, rear-ending a vehicle, and hitting a parked car.
If you are a victim of one of these incidents (in other words, if you are not at fault), you have some options for how you can be reimbursed for physical damages:
1. You can have your insurance carrier pay for repairs. You would be subject to your deductible, but the benefit is that your insurance company is working for you to get you back on the road. It will then subrogate, or get reimbursement from the other party, to recover damages paid on your behalf, including your deductible. In other words, paying the deductible is like a down payment to make sure your insurance company can legally represent you to the other insurance company. If the other driver was 100 percent at fault, you will recover your deductible.
2. You can represent yourself to the other insurance carrier. If you don’t want to pay your deductible, your insurance company won’t be able to help you out. Even if the other driver is 100 percent at fault, you may have to jump through some hoops to recover damages. If you don’t want to pay your deductible, you will essentially be representing yourself with the other driver and insurance company to get the vehicle repaired. As a rule of thumb, and at the very least, your insurance agent will assist in notifying the other carrier that the incident happened—and will then be on notice that you’ve reported the car accident to your carrier. But if you don’t want to pay the deductible, your agent has no authority to represent you to the other driver’s insurance company. You have to decide if that is worth your time.
Just as buying a car is a process, dealing with a car accident and reporting a claim is a process. If you are not sure what to do, you can always call your agent to discuss your insurance.
Be prepared, and drive safely.
Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.