Auto Insurance Insurance

How to Cover Your Assets After Car Accident

Written by Frank Addessi

An objective fact of life is that car accidents happen when you least expect and the unpredictable nature of them can leave you vulnerable to financial loss and fraud.

According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, the average person has at least one car accident every 18 years and three to four times over the course of their driving lifetime.

The threats to your wallet and financial well-being start while the echo of screeching tires and breaking glass still hang in the air. While you can’t ensure that you will never have a car accident, you can protect yourself from threats to your financial well-being by knowing what to do when car accidents happen.

The job of covering your assets should begin right after you make sure everyone, including yourself, has had any injuries addressed with either first aid or an ambulance ride to the hospital.

The first thing to do is notify the police of the accident. A police report will create an official record of the date, time, place and nature of the car accident. Some auto insurance policies require that a police report be filed in all cases and most require them when someone is hurt or it is a hit and run car accident.

Documenting the car accident scene

In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, you should document the scene and make notes about what happened while the events are still fresh in your mind.

If your cellphone is equipped with a camera start taking pictures. You will want to capture images of the scene so you will have a record of weather and road conditions, including anything that may have contributed to the accident, such as obstructions, potholes, missing signs and faulty traffic lights.

Photograph the damage to your vehicle as well as the damage to any cars or property damaged in the collision, especially parked cars. If possible you should also take photos of the driver and passengers of the other car(s) involved.

If you are up to it a narrated video of the scene featuring your recollection of the events and explanation of what is being filmed is also helpful. Photos, written notes and video can come in handy if the accident results in legal action that can take years before going to court by helping you recall exactly what happened.

Gather information

You probably already know that you should get the other driver’s name, license number and insurance information. You should also record the license plate and vehicle identification numbers of any other vehicles that were involved.

Ask for the names and addresses of all of the passengers of the other cars, even if they did not require medical attention at the scene. If they are unwilling or unable to provide the information make notes that include their age, gender and physical description.

Look around for any witnesses to the accident and ask for their names and contact information. If they are willing, use your phone’s video camera to record a statement from them explaining what happened making sure they include at least their contact information, the date, time and place where the video was recorded.

Silence is golden

As much as you may want to talk about what just happened, don’t. The normal reaction after an accident is to want to talk about it.

Even though your car accident is probably not criminal, anything you say can be used against you. This includes the perfectly normal compulsion to make polite apologies which can be considered admissions of responsibility. Stick to the facts when you talk to the police and your insurance company.

The aftermath of a car accident

Some of the most important things you can do after an accident start to happen after you have collected all the information, documented the scene and notified the police.

How you have your car removed from the scene of the accident is important. If your car can be driven safely, and you are able, you should drive your car home yourself. If your car cannot be driven and a tow truck that you did not call appears on the scene offering to help — DO NOT let them take your car.

Bandit tow trucks show up at accidents by listening to police scanners and then racing to the location. Once they have your car, they will either tow your car to a shop that will pressure you into having them do the repair work or a storage yard where they will demand an outrageous fee for towing your car.

Only use tow truck operators that you call and request assistance from. You should designate where you want your car taken, home or a repair shop of your choosing. If you don’t have a repair shop you know and trust contact your insurance company and ask them for the name of an authorized shop and have your car taken there.

About the author

Frank Addessi

Frank Addessi has been a serial entrepreneur and a licensed insurance agent for more than 20 years. He writes primarily about personal finance, small business and all types of insurance. His work has appeared on websites such as Smart Asset and The Simple Dollar. He can be found on his website

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