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If I am in a car accident, do I call their insurance or mine?

Man reporting car accident
Here's what you should know...
  • If you are in an accident, notify your own insurance company
  • Call the police if there are injuries or extensive property damage, or if your car is impeding traffic
  • Get the insurance and contact information of any other drivers involved
  • Take pictures of the accident scene and get contact information from witnesses if you can

Being in a car accident is frightening, and many people don’t know what to do. Here’s what you should know if you are in a car accident.

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Assess the Scene

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If you can get out of your car safely, do so. If you are in the middle of an intersection or there is traffic passing you, do not get out. Call the police, switch on your hazard lights and wait until help arrives.

Determine if anyone in your car has been injured. If you can, find out if there are any injuries to anyone in your car, the other vehicle, or anyone who may have been nearby the accident. If there are any injuries, call the police. Do not attempt to move anyone who appears to have serious injuries. Wait for an ambulance to arrive.

If you can safely do so, move your car out of the roadway so you don’t disrupt traffic. Any other drivers involved in the accident should do the same. Make sure everyone knows that you’re just moving out of the way of traffic so they don’t think you’re leaving the scene. Don’t do this if there is significant damage to your car. If you cannot move out of the way of traffic, call the police.

If the accident has caused significant damage to property, including the vehicles and any surrounding property like fences, trees, buildings and so forth, call the police.

If you are not sure whether you should call the police or not, call. The dispatcher can help you determine if help is needed.

If you can, take pictures of the accident scene. Make notes about what happened. Your memory will begin to fade almost immediately, so write down as much as you can at the scene.

Exchange Contact Information

Drivers exchanging information after an accident.

Give the other driver(s) your name, phone number and the name of your insurance company. You do not need to give them your address, your driver’s license number or your registration, and doing so could put you at risk for identity theft.

Collect the name, phone number and insurance company name from each other driver involved in the accident.

When talking to the other driver(s), stay calm and reasonable. Do not blame anyone else, but don’t admit that you were responsible, either. The insurance companies will determine who is at fault.

If there were witnesses to the accident, get their names and phone numbers as well. Encourage them to stay at the scene until the police arrive so they can give statements.

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Call Your Insurance Company

You will need to provide as much detail about the accident as you can. Do not try to determine whose fault the accident was. Simply give your insurance company the facts and any supporting documentation you have, like pictures or the police report.

Even if the other driver was clearly at fault, do not contact their insurance company. Your insurance company will do that.

The other driver’s insurance company may call you and interview you about what happened. Give them the facts of the accident, but don’t accept or place blame.

If the other driver is uninsured, let your insurance company know this. While most insurance policies cover damage to the other person’s vehicle if you don’t live in a no-fault state, your policy may provide coverage for damage caused by uninsured drivers.

Special Circumstances

If you are driving someone else’s car, notify the car’s owner. Their insurance should cover the damage since insurance is placed on the car, not the driver.

If another party is involved in the accident and they leave the scene before you can get their information, call the police. Write down as much information as you can about their vehicle, like the make, model, and color of the car. If you can remember all or part of the license plate number, write that down as well.

If the police are not called, you may want to file an incident report with the local police department anyway. This may help your insurance company to evaluate your claim.

After Your Claim is Settled

informing your car insurance company about an accident

If you have an accident, and particularly if the accident is determined to be your fault, your insurance premium may go up. If that happens, it may be a good idea to compare policies before your next renewal to make sure you are getting the best possible price for your insurance. Any insurance company you purchase coverage from will know that you had the accident, but shopping around for the best price will help keep your costs as low as possible.

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