2010-05-28
Things to remember after an accident

Say you've just had an accident. You're probably confused, upset, and possibly scared. While these are natural feelings to have after a collision, it's important to keep your wits about you and make sure you address 10 very important topics before making a claim.

Who was the other driver?
You'll often hear that after an accident you should exchange information with the other driver. The question is what information? The answer is quite simple. At the very least you should make sure you copy down the driver's name, address, driver's license number, birthdate, and phone number.

Next, make sure you get their policy information including the name of the company, policy number, the policy's start and end dates, phone number, and agent name if there is one.

Passengers
Write down how many people were involved, the vehicle or vehicles they were traveling in, and get their names as well as a basic descriptions such as sex, height/weight, ethnicity and so on. This is essential to help you if you are the unlikely victim of a staged accident or other attempt at insurance fraud.

The other vehicle or vehicles
Try to get the make, model, license plate and VIN number of the other car or cars.

Witnesses
Did anyone see the accident happen? If so, you'll want to get their information to help the insurance company determine who in the accident is at-fault.

Police report
If a police report is taken, the insurance company is going to want a copy and that might take months so if you want the claim settled quickly, you'll probably want to get a copy yourself and send it to them.

Where did the accident occur?
Note the location of the accident, number of lanes, whether it is one or two-way, pavement striping, which direction each vehicle was traveling, where each one was impacted, the lane each driver was traveling in, and finally any traffic-control devices in the area.

Take pictures
Photo-document all vehicles involved as well as the scene of the accident from all corners. If you are able to get a picture of all the involved parties, that is a great way of helping the insurance company identify all the individuals involved.

Vehicle condition
Make note of the vehicle's condition immediately after the accident. Where is the damage and is it drivable? If there is any other damage unrelated to the accident, make sure to disclose that to the insurance company.

Repairs
If you have a body shop you want to use, make sure you have their information handy. You can also ask around for recommendations.

Often, the insurance company will have a list of body shops they can suggest. If they do, you should also inquire about costs, warranties, and any benefits that come with using their repair service versus another.

Write down everything
In addition to everything else you need to write down, be sure to keep careful notes during the claim process. When you speak to anyone on the phone, document their name, employee number, extension, date and time of the call, what they say, and any other piece of information you think is relevant to helping your cause.

The above-mentioned things are essential to making the claim process smooth and efficient. The insurance adjuster will want to resolve their claim in the least amount of time. Having as much information as possible is a great way to make that happen so your life can quickly return to normal.


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