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What to Do If You're in a Car Accident

February 14th, 2016  |  Auto Insurance

Let's be honest, driving conditions in Canada aren't always ideal. Rain, snow, hail and wind can be unpleasant – and they can also be real hazards to drivers. You can take precautionary measures to stay as safe as possible, including installing winter tires, making sure your window wipers are always in working order, and slowing down when visibility is low on the roads.  However, despite all the precautions you take, sometimes car accidents happen.

I have been in a few car accidents in my lifetime, I can tell you that they can be very scary situations. Thankfully, no one was seriously physically hurt in any of my accidents, but the financial damage was extensive. Even though every car accident is different, the follow up procedures are pretty much the same.

If you're in a car accident, follow these steps to protect others’ safety and to assess the damage:

Make sure everyone is safe

Before getting out of the car to evaluate the damage make sure all passengers are unharmed. Don't try to move if you think you may be injured. Just call the police and wait for emergency professionals to arrive. Sometimes signs of physical harm aren't apparent from get go. It's a good idea to see your doctor within a few days to double-check your physical condition.

Pull over to get out of traffic

You'll want to walk around your car and assess the damage, but don't do it while you're still in the middle of the road because that's not safe. The last thing you want if you're in a car accident is another accident. To prevent further injuries, pull (or push) your vehicle over to the side of the road and have a look from there.  Keep an emergency kit in the trunk of your car with items such as a flashlight and flares which can come in handy if you're in a car accident.

Exchange information with the other driver

I can't stress how important it is to exchange contact information with the other drivers involved in the car accident. You need insurance information, full name, license plate number, and phone number from each driver involved. I would even go a step further and take a photo of their driver's license. This way you and your insurance company can follow up.

Take photos on the scene

Thank goodness for cell phones. These days we can visually document everything to do with a car accident – and we should. As Judge Marilyn Milian, from The People's Court says, "Cell phones aren't just for taking dirty pictures." Take out your camera and take photos of everything in, on and around your car. This will provide you with evidence for insurers and others who need to help you deal with the situation.

Go to the police station and report it

Call 911 as soon as possible. If the police don't come to the scene, they may advise you to come down to the station and file a police report. They will ask questions and possibly take additional photos. This will all be very helpful for your insurance claim.

Call your insurance company

The next call you should make after a car accident is to your insurance company. Let your insurer know what happened and start filing your claim. Be patient as it can take up to 30 days (or more) for the car to be repaired and the claim to be paid. Check your insurance regularly to make sure your policy stays up to date. An outdated or expired policy can mean big trouble if you're in a car accident.

While this isn’t an ideal situation, you can keep it from getting worse if you are willing to pay attention and take proper steps to avoid handle the problem as quickly as possible.

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