Statistically, driving a vehicle is the most dangerous thing most people do. Few people ever think about preparing for an accident until after they have been involved in one. Without recovery plans, any accident becomes a time-consuming, frustrating event. With a little planning, you can minimize the effects of an accident by preparing yourself and your vehicle beforehand. It is especially important to be prepared during the winter. Icy roads, snow banks and hazardous conditions make winter the season when most automobile accidents occur. Accidents are bad enough in warm weather, but much worse when the temperature is freezing or below.
Before the Accident
Before you are involved in an accident, there are a number of things you should do.
Things to Decide:
- Choose a towing company and a qualified repair company today. This avoids having to make these choices under the worst of circumstances later on.
- Know who you are going to call first and which friend or family member you can contact for help.
- Choose your insurance company based on how it treats claimants, NOT on price or by any other means.
Things to Store in Your Car:
- Emergency telephone numbers and plenty of change – when you are shaken up after an accident, you may not be able to remember the phone numbers of family and friends you can rely on for help. You may also be in a situation where your cell-phone is inoperable.
- Forms and pens for information exchange.
- Blankets and/ or warm clothes – when the vehicle’s heater fails or you are forced into the cold, warm clothing is necessary.
- Camera (disposable or digital) – to photograph the damage to your car and the other cars involved. It is also helpful to photograph anything surrounding the accident such as buildings, people who are witnesses, skid marks, traffic lights, signs and anything that is damaged as a result of the accident. For non-digital images, have two sets of prints made.
- First-Aid kit.
- Jumper cables, flares, tire inflation device (Please ensure that you are knowledgeable in the use of these items).
After the Accident
Quality information is critical when you are involved in an accident. It is critically important to know exactly what to do and the order in which to call for help. Often under times of stress it is hard to think clearly. You should keep a recovery checklist in your emergency help kit to gather the information you need from the other driver and the police.
Exchange information with the other driver. Be sure to get the drivers name, address and phone number as well as the names and numbers of any passengers, witnesses or people injured; driver’s license number, the car’s license plate number, vehicle identification numbers, insurance company name and policy number, insurance agents name and phone numbers. Write down the names and badge numbers of the police officers who took down the accident report and ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.
Call your towing company and have your car towed to the collision shop you have chosen in advance. Never allow a tow truck driver to insist your car be taken to a shop of their choice. Never sign a towing agreement without first reading the fine print. Pay by credit card. Once you have returned home, call your insurance company and notify them that you have been involved in an accident and where your car has been taken for repair.