What to Do When You Are Involved in a Minor Car Accident
Accidents happen! No one expects it, but knowing what to do in this unfortunate scenario is not always obvious or easy to know, especially for young drivers getting into their first minor collision.
In this blog post, we discuss the 4 actions to take if you are involved in a car accident or minor collision. It is important to follow each step in order to effectively deal with the situation at hand. Before we continue, it’s important to distinguish the differences between a major and minor collision. A safe rule-of-thumb is to examine the vehicle’s condition and its ability to drive. If your vehicle is not in drivable condition after a collision, it’s most likely a more serious incident. If both vehicles can be safely operated, it’s probably a minor collision.
1. Stay Calm and Check for Injuries
- A car accident can be scary. Your first priority should be to check the health and safety of yourself and your passengers; your car can wait. Make sure to remember to breathe and stay calm during the entire process. If someone is injured, call 911 immediately for help.
- If there are immediate injuries, you’ve most likely been involved in a serious collision. The authorities will help with the next steps to get you the medical attention you require and get your car towed to a local repair shop.
2. Determine Severity – Pull Off the Road If You Can
- If you don’t notice any immediate injuries, it’s time to determine the severity of the incident and evaluate the physical condition of the other motorist and of both vehicles.
- Turn on your hazard lights and exit your vehicle when it is safe to do so. After assessing the scene of the accident and collecting some photos, it’s necessary to determine if the vehicles can still be driven safely. If they can be driven, you and the other motorist should pull off to the side of the roadway or pull into a nearby parking lot.
- If the vehicles cannot be driven, it’s now time to contact the police and tow trucks to assist in clearing the scene.
3. Exchange Information and Report the Accident
- At this point, if you are pulled over or have driven away from the scene, it’s necessary to determine, with the other motorist, if the total damage between both vehicles looks to be over $2,000. Try to make your best guess.
- Minor accidents and fender-benders below the $2,000 mark do not legally need to be reported to the police.
- In these minor accidents, you can opt to complete repairs on your own terms without filing a claim. This may be a good option for small accidents, such as a minor rear-end collision or a small parking lot ding.
- In this case, both you and the other party can avoid having an “at-fault claim” on your insurance history, which will inevitably result in increased insurance premiums on your renewal. Even if you have “Accident Forgiveness” on your policy, it may be unwise to ‘use up’ your accident forgiveness on such a minor incident.
- If the total damage between both cars looks to be more than $2,000, it’s important to exchange licenses, insurance, and ownership information. The easiest step is to take photos of each others’ driver’s license, insurance slip (a pink piece of paper), and vehicle ownership (a green piece of paper).
- Once the information is exchanged, you can either independently, or collectively, go to a nearby collision reporting centre to report the accident and get a “Collision #” from the police. You will need this to submit an insurance claim.
4. Contact Your Insurance Broker
- At this stage, it’s important to contact your insurance broker. Your insurance broker can assist you in starting the claim process and can also help you understand what steps you should be taking if you hadn’t had the luxury of reading this blog post before your first collision.
- If you have decided that the damage is less than $2,000 in total as discussed above, your insurance broker can provide you a “Full & Final Release” waiver, for you and the other motorist to sign.
- Once the claim process has begun, your insurance company Adjuster will get in touch with you to coordinate your vehicle’s repair. You can suggest your own trusted shop or mechanic.
- Your insurance broker can also let you know if you have “Rental car coverage”, and along with the insurance company, can help get you your rental car so you can get back on the road.
It is always good to be proactive and know what to do in the situation of a car accident, just in case it happens to you in the future. Just remember these steps, stay calm, and call for help if you need it.
If you would like more information on the claim process after a car accident, your auto insurance coverage, or just a general inquiry about car insurance, you are welcome to call us and speak to one of our licensed brokers.
If you are looking to purchase car insurance, you can call us or get a quick online quote on our website.