Many people wonder about what they should do first when they have been in an auto accident in St. George, Utah. After a few preliminary things are done at the scene of the accident, filing a claim with your insurance company is the next step. You do not have to file a claim, sometimes you may wish to simply notify your insurance company of an accident and choose not to file. However, if you are going to file a claim, which you usually should, then there are certain things that you must be aware of before reporting an auto accident to your insurance company.
Photo Credit: elly jonez
- First and foremost, always be safe. Remain in your vehicle if that is the safest place. Get out if it is not. Seek medical attention for anyone that is injured, and turn on your hazard lights.
- Always make sure to get the other driver’s information. Take a picture of the other driver’s license plate with your phone. Then write down the other driver’s name, make and model of his car, and his insurance information. Sometimes the other driver may attempt to persuade you not to make an insurance claim, a police report and this basic information must be taken down no matter what.
- Always make sure there is a police report. Involving the police immediately after your accident is the only way to make sure that the other driver’s story does not change. A police report gives both parties a neutral third party perspective of what happened. Once it is recorded, fault is much easier for insurance companies to determine down the road.
- Look for available witnesses. In a best case scenario, you would want neutral third-party witnesses to write witness statements and include them in the police report. If that is not possible, at least obtaining the name and phone number of a neutral third-party witness could be extremely helpful later when the insurance companies are determining fault.
Once you have completed the first four steps, and you have taken enough time to be calm and collect your thoughts, you are ready to file your claim. Either contact your insurance agent or just use the phone number on your insurance card that you have with you in the car. While speaking with your insurance company, keep in mind that the phone call is likely being recorded. Do not say anything that you do not know to be true. Oftentimes, people do not realize the extent of their damage until well after the accident. That is why it may be wiser to wait and call in your claim after you get home so that you can better assess your injuries. Here are some additional tips:
- Do not be emotional and do not make guesses or exaggerations about what happened. Simply tell them the specifics of the accident.
- Your insurance company has contracted with you to protect you in the event of an accident. Do not be scared to file a claim with them. Failure to report an accident could be far more problematic for you in the future. Keep in mind that you are filing your claim with your own insurance provider. They are there to help.
If you are contacted by the other driver’s insurance provider, be very careful what you say. Do not rely on your memory. Write down what happened at the time of the accident and only tell them that. In fact, at that point, it may be best to just refer the at-fault driver’s insurance company to your attorney. A good personal injury attorney has experience dealing with insurance companies. He or she can take away much of the stress after an auto-accident.