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What to do after a car accident: A step-by-step guide to your car insurance

Wednesday, 2 August 2023

A car accident can be a distressing experience. Whether it be a minor fender bender or a multi-vehicle pileup, the unpleasant surprise of having to navigate through this type of situation is something that no one wants to deal with. That said, car accidents happen – every day. Even though you might have a clean driving record and abide by the rules of the road, the unexpected is always possible. From what you should do at the scene to contacting your car insurance provider, we have some important steps you should follow if you’ve been involved in an accident.

Actions to take at the scene of the accident.

The first thing to do if you’ve been in an accident is to remain calm. It’s easy for emotions to get the best of you, but doing this is paramount to ensuring the handling of the situation effectively. Once you’ve collected yourself, you should prioritize your safety and anyone else who was involved in the incident. This involves calling 911 for emergency assistance, if necessary. You should also inform the police if more than $2,000 in damage has occurred between both vehicles or if the accident occurred on a busy roadway and will significantly impede traffic. If possible, you can exit the vehicle, but only if it is safe to do so.

You should then document the scene with photographs and notes referencing the location where the accident occurred. Gather any witness accounts and contact details to support this. If the accident involved two or more vehicles, exchange auto insurance and contact information with all parties. In the event of a minor accident, attempt to move all vehicles to a safe spot nearby, but do not leave the scene. You should then wait for the authorities to arrive and follow their lead.

Seek medical attention after a car accident

Once the scene of the accident has been tended to, it’s strongly recommended that you have yourself checked out by a medical professional. In the moments following an accident, your body may experience an adrenaline rush. If so, it is quite possible that you will enter a fight-or-flight state, which will mask any pain or symptoms of an injury. Even if they don’t appear to be significant, minor injuries such as whiplash and muscle strains should be examined to ensure you receive the proper treatment. You may even uncover other ailments, like a concussion, which can have delayed effects on the body.

By promptly seeking medical attention, you can also establish a connection between the accident and your health condition. This can play a key role in the claims process or if you choose to pursue legal action. By obtaining documentation from a medical professional, you will enhance your credibility with insurance companies and will receive the proper compensation to cover medical expenses and future treatments, if necessary.

Notify your auto insurance provider of the car accident

Your next step will be to report the accident to your auto insurance provider. Focus on providing factual details about the accident, such as time, date, and location, so they can assess the situation. You should also list the names and contact information of any other parties involved, including witnesses. A police report is a great supporting document for this as well. Your car insurance provider will take this information and begin their investigation to determine who was at fault for the accident.

You will likely be advised to bring your vehicle to a collision centre or repair shop to have the damage evaluated. Given that we rely on our vehicles for so many things on a day-to-day basis, you may have the option to use a rental car while your own vehicle is being assessed and/or repaired.

Financial implications to consider following a car accident

If you are at fault, you will pay a deductible, and your car insurance provider will pay the remainder of the expenses. Ensure you review your vehicle insurance policy to know what your deductible is. You will also likely see your insurance premiums increase. However, if your policy includes accident forgiveness, you could avoid any increases following your first accident.

Depending on the province you live in, you might also be eligible for no-fault insurance. If so, you will go through your insurance provider to process your claim instead of the other driver’s provider. This is a much more efficient process and will help cover bills related to injury and vehicle damage.

Following an accident, it is quite likely you will see a decrease in the value of your car. This is something to keep in mind if you plan on selling the vehicle in the future, as the details regarding the accident must be disclosed to any potential buyers.

The ability to drive is a privilege that millions across Canada are fortunate to do every day. As a motorist, it is your responsibility to practice safe driving so that you not only protect yourself, but also your passengers, fellow drivers, and pedestrians. Despite your best efforts, accidents can still happen. Remember, do your best to remain calm if you are in an accident.

If you are in need of advice regarding your insurance options, contact a BIG Broker or request a quote for car insurance today.

By: Devon Gribble