Having a car accident can be a stressful experience. One minute you’re driving along minding your own business, and the next minute someone has pulled out in front of you, and you don’t have enough time to stop.

BANG! You collide with their vehicle, and take a moment to grasp your surroundings as your adrenaline kicks in, and you get out the vehicle. But what should you actually do from here?

Your first steps should be putting your hazard lights on and moving the vehicle out of the way of traffic if possible. It’s then important to check if anyone has been hurt and if so, someone must call an ambulance and the police. The police will also need to be contacted if the owner of any property involved in the accident is not at the scene. (By property we mean vehicles and buildings etc)

The steps that need to be taken in relation to the insurance matters are what can often be forgotten in the heat of the moment. Here are some of the simple things to remember in the event you are involved in an accident, in order to make your claims process as smooth as possible.

Don’t admit liability – We are all human and we will often slip up here. It’s easy to apologise and take responsibility for an accident that may not have been your fault. If the party you have collided with takes your apology too seriously, it can cause issues for the insurance companies to come to an agreement on who is at fault. For this reason, insurers state in their policy wording that you should leave the decisions on who was at fault, up to them.

What you should do is check if each other are ok, examine the damage and exchange details.

What you will need is:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Registration number
  • License number and expiry
  • Make and model of the vehicle.
  • Witness contact details where available

A picture is worth a thousand words, so given that we all have camera phones these days, it’s a great idea to be able to take photos of the accident scene and the damage to the vehicles too. If safe to do so, taking photos of any street signs, road conditions or anything else that would give insight into how the accident occurred is a bonus too.

Contact your broker (or insurance company if you don’t have a broker) as soon as is practical, even if you don’t intend to claim for damages to your vehicle. Your broker will represent you throughout the claims process and point out any policy benefits that you are eligible for. Your broker/insurer will require the following details to lodge the claim:

  • Date and time of the accident
  • Location
  • Description of the accident (What actually happened?)
  • All third party details that you have obtained
  • Police report reference (if applicable)

The claims process is quite simple these days, and the more information at hand, the quicker the initial claims process will be. (eg waiving of excess for claims that are clearly not your fault)

It wasn’t my fault, so do I just claim through the third party’s insurer?  Whilst you can do this, it is recommended that you speak to your own broker/insurer first to see how your policy will respond. You probably chose your policy for the benefits that it provides, so this is where it will come into action. If you’re not at fault, you’re premium won’t be affected and you won’t have to pay an excess, as your insurer recovers their costs from the third party’s insurer.

Before you get to the (hopefully unlikely) event of an accident, it pays to make sure you understand your policy and what benefits are included automatically to your policy and what benefits you have to pay extra for that you have or have not selected.

Discovering that you haven’t selected a hire car option at claim time is only going to add to the inconvenience of the car accident. This is an optional benefit for most policies, and is worthwhile if you don’t have another car you can use whilst yours is off the road getting repaired.

Take this as a reminder to have a look over your policy documents and speak to your broker to understand the ins and outs of your policy so that you feel confident that come claim time, you know exactly where you stand.