The weather is starting to turn and this can often mean that the streets can become treacherous. Rain, wind, ice, snow, and hail can all make driving your car dangerous to the point where you may have a collision with another car or even the neighbor’s ditch as you’re on your way home from a holiday party. Are you prepared in case something like this happens? It can be good to know what to expect when a collision occurs, and what your responsibilities will be in this situation. When an emergency strikes, preparation in advance can make the difference between responding right and not knowing what to do next.
Step One: Physical Preparation
You need to do some physical preparation before the collision occurs so that you’ll always be prepared. You should have a first aid kit in your car that can be used in case of injuries. This kit should include some medical information, such as if you or anyone in your family is allergic to anything or are taking any medicines. Also, you should have an emergency automobile kit that has flares, jumper cables, flashlight, cones, and other materials that will help you to be visible to other drivers after an accident, especially for bad weather when visibility may be poor. In addition, you’ll want to keep a copy of this checklist in your car to remind you of the details.
Step Two: Safety First
Safety is the first thing that needs to be handled after an accident occurs. At this point, it’s necessary to see if anyone has been injured and if it’s safe to move the vehicles to the side of the road. Serious accidents or accidents with a large number of injuries may not be able to be moved to the side of the road. In these cases, you’ll want to stay inside your car with your seatbelt on, and make sure that your car is visible with your hazard lights. You may also want to set out flares or road cones if it’s safe.
Step Three: Communication and Documentation
After going over the safety concerns, it’s time for communication. Serious accidents with injuries will require calling 911 to get the attention of the authorities and get help quickly. Less serious accidents mean that at this point you’ll want to exchange information with the other driver and if law enforcement comes on the scene, with them. Typically, you’ll want to get their car make and model, driver’s license information, contact information, and insurance information. Also, you’ll want to inquire if there were any injuries in their car. You’ll need to give them the same information. Look for witnesses to the accident, as well. You’ll want to get their information in case you need their eyewitness account for the police report, insurance claim process, or lawsuit. Keep in mind the majority of insurance companies will request that you don’t admit guilt after an accident, and try to keep the exchange as pleasant as possible in this instance.
At this point, it can also be very important to pull out your cell phone and start taking pictures of the damage to each of the cars and any property damage. If your cell phone isn’t reliable or contains a poor camera, it may be a good idea to stock your first aid kit from step one with a disposable camera for just this purpose. You may also want a pencil and paper in this situation as this may come in handy when it comes time to exchange information or write down the events that occurred in the collision to keep your memory fresh for the accident report.
Step Four: Accident Report
In some areas, the police will not come on the scene of your accident if it’s a minor accident. Often, someone actually needs to be injured to get the police to respond. The thing that may seem inconvenient is that your insurance company may require you to have filed an accident report for your insurance claim to be processed. This can be handled by visiting the local police station to file out the report or checking to see if there’s a report available on the website for the Department of Motor Vehicles that can be downloaded and filled out.
Step Five: Insurance Company… and Alexander
The final step is contacting your insurance company to learn about your coverage, and what your options are depending on how damaged your car happens to be from the collision. You need to determine whether your car is safe to drive, and what your insurance company will cover when it comes to towing and other assistance. Your insurance agent will be able to help you through your claims process. It’s at this point that we suggest giving us a ring also. The insurance company may try to steer you to their preferred shop. How a shop becomes “preferred” is a topic for another day but it is not with you or your vehicle’s best interest in mind. Also, keep in mind that you only need one estimate and you can choose ANY body shop. If steak and hamburger are the same price… choose steak.
One last thing… the warranty. Who actually warranties the work done on your vehicle? The body shop.
At the end of a long day dealing with your collision, you will want professionals that get your car back to you as timely as possible. Alexander Body and Fender is here for you! Have your car towed to our garage, and we’ll help you through this trying process. We will negotiate with the insurance company for you. Why deal with that headache if you don’t have to? We will also set you up with a rental car to get you on your way faster. Lastly, you’ll rest easy knowing that you’ll get a quality repair.
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