The shock of being involved in a car accident can be paralysing so it’s a good idea to be prepared and know what to do. Here, comparison site mustard.co.uk (where you can find cheap car insurance quotes) shares a step by step guide of what to do after an accident.
1. Stop your car
By law, you must stay at the scene of the accident and switch off the engine as soon as it’s safe to do so. You should also put your hazard lights on to warn any other road users.
2. Assess the situation
This might be easier said than done, but rushing into action can mean missing something important. After all, there’s a reason why the phrase ‘less haste, more speed’ exists.
With that in mind, take a moment to check the damage done and see if anyone’s been injured. You’ll also need to remember not to apologise until you’re confident about what’s happened. Saying you’re sorry could be used as an admission of fault which could affect your insurance.
If you can, make a note of the weather and driving conditions (for example, is it raining or icy on the roads?). Take photos and video footage where possible too, as this can help clarify details with your insurer and provide vital evidence.
3. Contact emergency services
You should contact the emergency services if:
- Anyone is injured and needs immediate help.
- The road is blocked or if the situation is dangerous.
- You think a crime has been committed (for instance, if you think the other driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or has caused the crash on purpose).
You’ll also need to contact the police if certain animals have been injured (specifically, horses, cattle, asses, mules, sheep, pigs, goats or dogs). However, unless these pose an immediate obstacle or danger, you should call the non-emergency 101 number.
If you can’t contact the police at the scene of the accident, you must report the accident within 24 hours.
When you don’t need to contact emergency services
If you’ve exchanged details and no one is injured and no public property has been damaged, you don’t need to contact the police.
4. Exchange details
By law, you must also exchange details with anyone else involved in the accident. This includes sharing your name, address, and number plate. If you have your insurer’s details, it’s also worth passing these on too.
If you or the other drivers are not the registered keepers of the cars you’re driving, you must share details of who is. For example, if one of you is driving a company car.
5. Contact your insurer
If you can, you should call your insurer while you’re at the scene of the accident. Doing this means they’ll be able to ask you specific questions about the nature of the accident that you can clarify there and then.
You should always let your insurer know if you’ve been involved in a car accident, even if you don’t want to make a claim (if that’s the case, make it clear, you’re telling them ‘for information only’).
6. Decide whether or not to make a claim
If you want to make a claim, you should contact your insurer. There’s no set time limit for this but most insurers say you should let them know within a ‘reasonable’ amount of time.
Needless to say it’s entirely up to you whether or not you want to claim but consider:
Your no claims bonus
Unless you’ve protected it, your no claims bonus (NCB) will take a hit which means a smaller discount on your premium at renewal.
This is the amount you pay towards a claim. If you’ve got a high excess, think about whether it’s worth claiming based on the cost of the damage.
For example, your excess is £100 but your repairs are estimated at £175. If you decide to make a claim, your insurer will pay £75 while you pay the lion’s share of the cost (£100). In this situation, it’s probably not worth you making a claim as the impact on your NCB is likely to be greater than you paying for repairs yourself. But if the cost of repairs was much higher than your excess, for instance £400, then it might be worth claiming on your insurance.
Do claims affect my premium at renewal?
The short answer is yes, if you make a claim, your premium is likely to increase when you renew. Any increase will depend on whose fault the accident was.
Accidents that are your fault (an at-fault claim) naturally have the biggest impact. Non-fault claims where your insurer has recouped the cost from the other driver can also mean premiums increase but by a much smaller amount.