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What to do if you have a car accident

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If you have a car accident, the first thing you need to do is not to panic. An unfortunate event can happen to anyone and you should concentrate on what needs to be done next. If someone has been injured or the vehicles involved are causing an obstruction on the road, you need to call the police on 999 immediately so that they can request an ambulance and come quickly to warn oncoming traffic.

Under the Road Traffic Act, you need to stop no matter how minor the road accident is and you are required to leave your name and address to anyone else involved in the accident.

What details you need to collect

You will need to get the following details after the car accident

  • Date, time and location of the accident
  • Name, address and contact details of the other driver, passengers and witnesses
  • Details of the registered keeper if the other driver isn't the one
  • The registration number of the vehicles involved in the accident (make, model, colour and any other remarkable modification if any)
  • A sketch showing the position of the vehicles after the crash
  • What the weather was like at the time of the accident (include details of road surface, surroundings, lighting)
  • What damage has been done to the vehicles (yours and any other vehicles)
  • Any injuries suffered by anyone because of the crash
  • Take pictures of the accident scene and vehicles (use your phone if it has a camera)

Although not many people will be willing to act as witnesses, you will find that independent people who have nothing to do with the accident but were present there are indispensable when it comes to claiming on your car insurance if they come forward as witnesses to back up your claim.

Putting in a claim to your car insurance company

It is very important that you call your insurer as soon as possible to notify them of the car accident because there's a predefined time period within which you must have informed your insurer as described in your policy and failure to do so can result in the refusal of your claim. In most cases, the first person you speak to about the claim will only take down a few details and someone else will call within the next 24 hours. You will get a reference number and another phone number to call relating to your claim. When you receive the second call, you will then have to describe the crash in detail and give details about the other drivers involved, witnesses etc. When explaining what happened, keep it brief but emphasise on the main points. For example if another driver overtook you from the left hand side and hit your passenger side while you were stationary, be sure to emphasise on that part. The accident claims advisor will check the type of policy you have with them first, that is, whether it third party only (TP), 3rd party, fire and theft (TPFT) or fully comprehensive. You may probably have to pay the excess that was agreed at the beginning of your policy upfront but you will get your money back when the accident is settled, provided it wasn't your fault.

If your vehicle has been damaged, your insurance provider will direct you to one of their approved garages to get your vehicle repaired. You can get it repaired somewhere else but the costs may not be fully refunded in that case. If you are entitled to a courtesy car, a 3rd party in partnership with your insurer will arrange this for you before your car gets sent to the garage.

Always make sure the details provided by you are correct as this can have serious implications if they are found to be untrue. It is good to call up your insurance company after a few days to double check the details they have relating to your car accident. In some cases when they take down your details they put everything under the main policy holder’s name when it should be on one of the named driver’s name. Make sure that the details of the accident are accurate so that you don't end up with someone else's accident on your name.

For straight forward cases where it's easy to see who is at fault, then car insurance claim will go really quick but for circumstances where none of the drivers are accepting liability for the accident, it might be difficult to prove who was at fault and the claim process can drag for 2 years before being settled by a court.

gices Published 09 Dec 2007


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anonymous_2 07 Jul 2012

I was involved in an accident in 2009 and the other party moved their vehicle before the police were phoned, everyone is saying that it is my fault and I was speeding I was doing 25 in a 30 and they turned in to me as I was overtaking. As said previously they moved their vehicle I left mine where it stopped how can they have a case against me when the other party moved vehicle (evidence)? Please reply as I thought it was illegal to move and even if not the evidence was tampered with shouldn't this be perverting the course of justice?

anonymous_2 07 Jul 2012

I pulled up behind a parked car, at a zebra crossing, the car was particially parked on the crossing waited approx 2 mins, nothing happened so I went to overtake and a young boy got out of the passenger side of the parked car and ran across zebra crossing into side of my car. I'm being done for dangerous driving, will I lose my licence? It's my first offence.

anonymous_2 23 Sep 2013

I crashed my car before dvla could register the vehicle so it is not in my name so my insurance company won't pay me, can they do that?

anonymous_2 23 Sep 2013

I've just had an accident I've no licence or insurance but swapped details what shall I do? Shall I go and hand myself at the police station?

anonymous_2 24 Sep 2013

My husband is a named driver on my policy. He had a crash which was his fault and we claimed on my insurance. Does this claim on my policy go under my name or his name when we re-new?