If you’re in an accident, even if it’s only a minor fender bender, you might find it hard to think straight in the moment. Reading up on what you should do after an accident ahead of time can help keep you and your passengers safe when it counts.

How to Prepare for an Accident

While no one can anticipate if or when they’ll get into an accident, there are some things you can do ahead of time to help you stay safe at the scene.

  • Have the necessary documents in your car. This includes registration, proof of insurance, your leasing agent’s name, and any relevant medical information for you, your family, or frequent passengers.
  • Keep safety equipment in your car. In the event of an accident, it helps to keep supplies such as flares, cones, and emergency signs in your vehicle. It doesn’t hurt to have a pen and a pad of paper in your console in case your phone dies at the scene.
  • Make sure you’re covered. Having the right amount of insurance won’t prevent an accident from taking place, but it can safeguard you against financial loss.

What to Do Immediately After an Accident

Now that you’ve equipped your car with the necessary supplies and paperwork, here are the steps you should take right after the collision. Your first priority should be staying safe, and then thinking about documenting the scene and gathering information for your insurer.

Pull Over

Never leave the scene of an accident, even if it’s minor. Pull over to the side of the road if it’s safe to do so. If you know that the accident was triggered by road rage, exercise caution when interacting with the other driver. Pull over into a safe place if you’re concerned about carjacking. If you can’t pull over, keep your hazard lights on until it is safe to do so. Once you have pulled over, set up flares or reflective emergency triangles to alert other drivers to your presence. Don’t move your vehicle if the crash is severe and be wary of traffic while exiting your car.

Check for Injuries

Make sure you and your passengers are physically okay. Call for medical assistance if necessary and tend to any injuries before doing anything else.

Contact the Authorities

If you’re involved in a serious accident, it’s important to let the police know so they can contact emergency services. Take down the information of the officers on the scene and ask for a copy of the accident report for your records. Depending on where you live, the police might not respond to minor accidents. If no one comes to the scene, you can request a copy of the accident report through the police or insurance office.

Start Collecting Information

Once you’ve checked on your passengers, start documenting the scene of the accident and gathering information from the other drivers. You can record the information with a pen and paper or with your smartphone. Collect names and contact information for every driver and witness at the scene. Ask to see the other driver’s license and insurance ID cards. In case they don’t report the accident, ask for their insurance company’s phone number. Gather all vehicle information from the other car or cars involved in the accident, including make, model, color, license plate number, and vehicle identification number.

What to do when you get into a car accident - woman inspects damage to car

Document the Scene and the Damage

If possible, document the scene and your car with your smartphone’s camera, video, or voice memo feature. Try to get footage of any skid marks or damage, and record the date, time, weather, visibility, and location of the accident. Make note of the street names and the position of the cars relative to the road, or the direction they were heading in before the accident.

File a Report

If the police don’t come to the scene, you should still file a report for insurance reasons. Head to your local police station or visit their website to file an incident report.

Start the Claims Process

Let your insurer know if you’ve been involved in an accident as soon as you can. Some insurers have a mobile app or a website where you can file a claim without calling them directly. Even if you’re only involved in a minor accident, it’s important to let your insurer know so you can learn what’s covered under your policy. Check to see if there are any claim deadlines and fill out all paperwork as thoroughly as possible.

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you might see your insurance premiums increase substantially. Here at The General, we believe that everyone, including high-risk drivers, deserves reliable insurance at an affordable price. If you’re looking to change carriers, visit our quotes page to get quoted in under two minutes or less. You can learn more about safe driving and insurance by visiting our blog.