Protecting Yourself After an Auto Accident: Steps to Take.

Getting into an auto accident is something that I never thought it will happen to me. Especially when someone hit my parked car. On my post-overnight call morning. Then tried to drive off.

What to do in that instance? Here are some ideas that will hopefully help if you are in an accident next time.

I was walking out of the post office, minding my own business, when I heard a loud ‘bam!’.  To my horror, a man had backed his car into my one month old minivan and was trying to drive away. I yelled out loudly at him. Grabbing my phone as I was doing that to take a photo of his license plate. He stopped and got out of his car. We went over to inspect my car: 2 large dents on the bumper, paint chipping off the side near the left rear tire. I took photos of the damage. He gave me his insurance information. He was about to drive off again.

In one of my brighter moments, despite my post-night call grogginess, I insisted on calling the police. After waiting 15 minutes (luckily, we are not in a busy area and the cops are quite responsive), the officer came by and got both our information and gave us a brief copy of the report. The officer made it clear it was not my fault (other driver backed into my stationary vehicle). We both went on our way.

The moment I arrived home, I called both his and my insurance’s company. I had two options:

  1. File a report with my auto insurance, pay my deductible ($500), they will repair my car. My insurance will then try to file a subrogation claim against the other party’s insurance. If the other party accepts fault, I will get my deductible back. This will go into my claims records but according to my agent, it will not count against me.
  2. Contact the at-fault party’s insurer and get a claims done through them.

I picked the second option, as I did not want anything on my claims record. If the accident was worse and I can’t drive my vehicle, I would have picked option 1.

I gave my version of the events to the insurer’s claim adjuster. After 5 days, I didn’t hear anything. When I contacted the claims adjuster, they told me their client (the at-fault driver) have not answered any of their calls, so they cannot move forward with the claim. Thank God I was still able to drive my vehicle around as the damage was cosmetic!

My claim did not move forward until I insisted that the police report had clearly documented which driver was at fault, and asked to speak to a supervisor. I was told to bring my vehicle to the claims adjuster at a local auto body shop.

The claims processor verbally told me that their insurance will cover replacements of the three car seats in my vehicle. I asked for that to be documented in writing before buying new car seats. (I would have paid to replace them myself, due to safety concerns. Since it is due to this accident, I felt the insurance should compensate me for it.)

 

When my husband brought my car to the claims adjuster, they agreed to pay for the damages to the vehicle. However, the adjuster refused to pay for my car seat replacement costs despite a confirmation email to the contrary! Their argument was that no one was in the car seats at the time of the accident, so it does not need replacing.

I was livid. It was not until I wrote contacted the claims processing supervisor that they cut me a check for replacement car seats. This was after citing evidence from the car seat manufacturer that recommend replacing the seats after any accident.

All in all, it took quite a bit of my time, but I did get my vehicle repaired and car seats replaced.

According to the US Census, over 10 million auto accidents are reported every year. Many more go unreported. Many of these accidents are thought of as an annoyance, it also becomes a financial issue.

1. Be Prepared – Know what to do in the event of an accident. I don’t think I was super prepared, but I did react quickly by taking a photo of the other vehicle and called the police.
2. Safety First: Check to ensure nobody is injured and place everyone’s safety first when inspecting the damage done. Try not to move the vehicles if you are in a fairly safe spot.
3. Call the police. In some areas, the police will not come if no one is injured. You may have to file a report at the nearest police station. Try to call the non-emergent number if nobody is injured.
4. Gather information about the accident – eye witnesses (clerk at post office who saw the accident), take photos of the damages, information from the other driver.
5. Call the insurance company. Be aware that some accidents can raise your insurance rates.
6. If you are the only party involved in the accident, (i.e. car hitting pole, tree, etc), consider paying out of pocket and not filing an insurance claim. Even if it is a little above the cost of your deductible, the rate increase you will get for the next few years may cost you more than paying out of pocket to fix the damage.

I hope you don’t ever get into an auto accident. If you do, remember the above steps. Do you have any auto accident information to share? Please comment below. In the meantime, I have some ideas here on how to save some money on your auto insurance.

 

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News Reporter

4 thoughts on “Protecting Yourself After an Auto Accident: Steps to Take.

    1. Thanks for visIting and for the great tip – yes if you are at fault and damage is low-ish – 1k or less, it is not worth filing a claim. The premium increase will far outweigh the costs of fixing the damage.

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