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Feb 16

What to do when an accident happens

Posted by:AutoMoney

As a driver, the chances of you being involved in some sort of accident during your driving life are relatively high, whether that is a little bump, or something more serious (hopefully not).  But do you know what to do if you are involved in an accident?

The key point to remember is, no matter how big or small the accident, you must stop and assess your vehicle. The same applies if you have an accident with a person, animal, or property. 

Pull over into a safe area (if possible), leave your hazard lights on to alert other road users and safely exit the vehicle.

After stopping, the next steps are as follows:

what to do when an accident happensIf anyone in either party is injured, you must notify the police. If there are no injuries in either party, you must still contact and notify the police within 24 hours of the accident, if property has been damaged and you have not been able to give your details to the third party, or the property owner. You will also need to show your certificate of insurance at the scene or afterwards.

Of course, if there are injuries at the scene, calling for a paramedic is also key.

After checking that no one is injured and the emergency services are not required, you need to make a note of the other vehicle’s registration, the name of the driver and any other people in the vehicle as well as a contact phone number and address. You should also take a note of their insurance details, if possible. You will need to give your details to the driver of the other vehicle also. So it makes sense to always keep a pen and pad of paper in the vehicle.

If the police are called, you will be asked to give a statement detailing what happened from your point of view. However, you do not have to give this straight away, especially bearing in mind how stressful an accident can be – most people prefer to give their statements after the shock has subsided and they have a clearer view.

The police are also likely to breathalyse all drivers at the scene as a matter of course (if possible), and will ask to see your documents to prove you are a legal driver. If you are unable to supply these there and then, you may be given a “producer”, which means you have to take them to your nearest police station within a certain time frame.

As soon as possible after gaining all of the information required from the other driver and speaking to the police, if needed, phone your insurance company and explain what has happened and provide them with the details of the other party. You must phone your insurance company even if you feel that you are not the one at fault, because the accident must be logged in the first instance.  For this reason, it is worth having your policy number and contact number of your insurance company safely stored in your car, or saved within your mobile phone. 

It is important to tell your insurance company as soon as possible as, if you delay, the other driver could try to make a claim on your policy – it is always best to strike while the iron is hot. Insurance call centre workers are trained to offer advice and support if you are upset on the phone; they understand what a stressful time this can be. You should never admit liability for the accident (even if you think it was your fault) until you have taken advice from your insurer.

Equally, if you think that the other driver was the most at fault and therefore caused the accident, it is possible for you to claim on their policy. Again, your insurer will advise you on this.

If the car is in a condition in which it is still safely driveable, once you have spoken to the driver and gathered their information and spoken to your insurance company, it is advisable to move from the scene of the accident.

If the car is badly damaged, your insurance company will advise you on what to do, or you can use your breakdown cover to help.

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