Having an accident is always an emotional situation—whether that emotion is anger, frustration, fear, sorrow, anxiety, worry or panic. Even something as minor as a fender-bender or a slow-speed parking lot accident can be enough to create emotion. Try to remain calm.
When you are in an accident, remember first that insurance companies typically investigate accidents to determine fault—so don’t assume or admit that you are the guilty party. Being in an emotional state or in a state of shock can skew your perception of the accident. Let them do their job.
Next, call the police. Once they are on their way, exchange insurance information with the other driver. You probably don’t need to worry about writing any information down—just use your cell phone to take pictures of their driver’s license, their car, them, and the area. Make sure you get proof of insurance from the other driver. If they have the necessary information available at the scene, call immediately to verify that they do have coverage. Just because the paper says they are covered doesn’t mean they are. You should always have your insurance information in the glove compartment to give the other party.
For most states, unless there’s bodily injury, you should remove the vehicle from the road. You can be cited for obstruction of traffic if you keep your car on the road when there’s no personal injury. Remove your car to a safe place and proceed to work out the details with the other party as you await the arrival of the police.
Tow trucks dispatched by the police are often under contract with the police. Typically, they will tow your vehicle to their lot and charge you storage fees while it’s there. These fees can mount up quickly, especially if there is a dispute with your insurance company regarding your claim and your vehicle can’t be repaired right away.
You have the option of having your vehicle towed to a collision repair facility of your choosing. Most collision repair facilities allow cars to remain there, free of charge, while the insurance company details are resolved. This can save you a significant amount of money in storage fees.
It’s a good idea to think ahead and be prepared. Know where you want your car taken if you should have an accident. If your car care shop doesn’t do body work, ask them to recommend someone you can trust, and keep their phone number and address in your glove box, along with your insurance information.
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