Are you prepared if you crash your car? Is anybody?

By Jenn Taft

Nobody plans to have an accident whilst driving. Road traffic accidents are frightening. So how do you handle it?

I had an accident earlier this year. It was a nasty shock to get at the end of my busy day and I remember just wanting to be home and safe as soon as possible.

Around 60 people are injured on the road every day in the UK, with the police dealing with just over 183,000 car accidents each year. With such regularity, it is important you know what to do after an accident should you find yourself involved in one.

What do you need to do?

A lot of the time minor car accidents can be handled quite quickly at the road side.When you get the chance to talk to any other drivers in an accident be ready with your phone or a pen and paper. I keep a notepad and pen in my car at all times, just in case.

You need to find out anything you can, so don’t be afraid to ask for the following information:

The driver’s name and address

Their phone number

The car registration

The make and model of car

Details of any damage to their car

The name of their car insurance company

Do's & Don'ts.

If they won’t give you any details, or the situation doesn’t feel right, you need to call the police immediately. Drivers are obliged to divulge this information after an accident, and to not do so suggests you need help.

In addition, if you can write a description of the scene then do, including weather conditions, positioning of cars and any other factors that may have contributed to the accident. If you don’t feel comfortable writing it down, get your phone out and snap as many pictures as you can of the accident and your surroundings. Any little bit of information is important as your insurer may ask for anything you have.

Due to the nature of such a situation it can be hard to get more information than this at the time. You will be in shock, you might be upset and possibly injured, and you may just naturally forget to ask for the right information. This is when it would be useful to have the above points written down somewhere in your car as a prompt.  

Importantly, NEVER apologise during an accident, even if you think it is your fault. Why? Your insurer may not see it as your fault, even if it is, and it may also invalidate your insurance. After an accident there tends to be a universal understanding that driver’s information gets swapped, you check your car is safe to drive and you move on. Your job is not to solve the mystery of the incident, it is to get the information about what has happened and leave it to your insurer to sort the rest.

Your car insurance

Call your car insurer from home as soon as you feel calm enough to do so. It is important to be honest with them - if you think it was your fault, tell them so. What your insurer will generally do is take down all the information you have, asking about specifics as they go. This conversation is recorded with your driving history.

Always answer all questions honestly and tell them anything you can, even if you do not deem it important. Their job is to find out what happened in detail, find out who was at fault and then work with the other insurance companies involved to pay for any damages and injuries. They have expert investigators on hand to do all of this, so other than a few conversations with them, you shouldn’t have to do much more.

The other insurer

If an insurer approaches you to settle a claim, by post or telephone, take their information and pass it on to your insurance company. You do not have to settle with an insurer - that is what you pay your car insurance company for, so let them handle it! If an insurer is persistent and keeps getting in contact, simply thank them for their time and pass the date, time and a brief summary of the conversation on to your insurance company.

Your excess

What is your excess? This is money you will need to pay before your insurer foots the bill so have a look through your documentation to see what this value is. It is usually less than £500 and is predetermined by you when you apply for insurance.

If the accident is your fault your insurer will expect this amount from you and they will make up the difference. If the accident isn’t your fault then the insurer may waiver your excess and pay you the claim in full. Of course, if your accident costs less than your excess your insurer will ask you to foot the bill.


No claims discount

So how does this affect your insurance premium? If you’ve got a no claims discount then you might want to check if it has been broken due to your accident. If you have it protected then there is nothing to be concerned about, the years of bonuses you have built up will still stand.

If you don’t have no claims protection it might be worth investing in it. Even though it will cost a small fee this is the best way to preserve your built up discount.

Top Takeaway

After an accident

- Take down as much information before leaving the scene and take pictures if you can.

- If the situation is difficult, dangerous or anyone is injured, call the emergency services immediately.

- Call your insurer as soon as you are home (and have calmed down!) and have an honest conversation with them about everything that has happened.

- Look over your insurance documentation to see what your excess is and whether your no claims discount is protected.


By Jenn Taft

Jenn is a freelance writer and physics teacher from the West Midlands. She has a love of writing about personal finances, especially how they change when you become a parent, and enjoys the honesty that such writing brings. When not writing, teaching or being a mum, Jenn loves nothing more than indulging her love of hospital and police based documentaries, and cake.

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