You’ve been driving for some time, and you consider yourself a safe driver. Then, all of a sudden, you have a car accident. You may be a little bit rattled, but you will set the stage for a successful insurance claim if you calm down and follow a step-by-step process.
Stay At the Scene
Always stay at the scene of the accident until the police have arrived. If the police are not coming, remain until you have exchanged information with the other driver. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime and can result in fines and, in some cases, jail time.
Once everyone is in a safe place, dial 911 to report the accident. If the other driver tries to talk you out of phoning the police, consider this a red flag and phone anyway. Police may be reluctant to come out for all fender benders, but they will always come if they believe an injury may have occurred. Follow whatever instructions the dispatcher gives when you phone.
Document the Accident
Exchange information with the other driver, such as name, the insurance company, driver’s license and car license number, make, and model. Avoid discussing details about the accident with them.
If any witnesses come forward, take their names and contact information, as well. Photograph the scene and both vehicles from all sides to show damage. Note conditions, such as rain or darkness, which may have been factors in the accident. Note any damage, no matter how minor.
When officers respond to your 911 call, they will want to document the accident. They’ll ask you to explain what happened. Cooperate fully with the police and the other driver, but do not speculate or admit fault. Avoid accepting any immediate offers of settlement from the other driver and avoid signing anything unless it is from the police or your insurance. Note the name of the officers who respond or ask for a business card.
If no officers respond, collect all the information from the other driver and witnesses and take photographs. While the details are still fresh in your mind, jot them down. Be sure to note the location of the accident, which direction you were driving in, and the direction the other driver was moving. Sketch the scene.
File An Accident Report
In Wisconsin, if the police did not already do so, you must file an accident report in cases of injury, more than $1,000 in property damage to private vehicles, or more than $200 in damage to any government property other than a vehicle. Filing an accident report is never wrong, however, so you should file if you have any doubts about whether your accident is reportable. You file the report through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Keep a copy of the information for your insurance claim.
Watch Your Emotions
Keep your emotions in check throughout the whole process. Be polite to the other driver and police officers
File An Insurance Claim
Brian Van De Hey Insurance can help you file your insurance claim. Contact us as soon as possible to report your accident. Notifying us helps protect against you personally being liable for any damages. The sooner you call, the better you will remember the details of the accident.