As insurance agents, you might think we'd be cool as cucumbers when we get into a car accident. But the reality of experiencing a crash (even if it's a simple fender bender) is very different from talking about it. When faced with the situation in real life, the adrenaline will be pumping and you may suddenly draw a blank on what to do next.
The first thing you should do is remain calm. Situations like these are the reason why you have insurance. Next assess your personal safety, and the safety of other passengers in your vehicle. Is anyone seriously injured? If so, call 911. If everyone seems ok and your vehicle will still move, pull your vehicle over to the shoulder or off of the road if you can. Unless you feel like your life is at risk, do not leave the scene.
The rest is logistical: Collecting information, filing a police report, taking photos of the accident and vehicle damage, filing a claim, and getting a tow if necessary. We've compiled this printer-friendly guide that you can fold in half and keep in your glovebox. We hope the day never comes that you have to use it, but if you need it you'll be glad it's in there.
It's recommended that you file your claim while you're still at the scene of the accident. This is because the claims adjuster can help guide you through the process and make sure you have all of the information they need to start working on the claim. Depending on your insurance, they may also be able to help you arrange to have your vehicle towed. If you know you're going to need a rental car, you should ask your claims adjuster on the phone how to go about getting one.
We highly recommend downloading your insurer's mobile app so you can have your proof of insurance with you at all times. All states in the US now accept electronic proof of insurance, meaning you don't need to have the printed version in your glovebox. Most of these apps will also let you file a claim right there, find a local car repair shop that works with your insurance, arrange a tow, rent a car, and more. (Pro tip: Do this now, not when you're in the middle of an accident scene!)
Here are links to download the most common carriers we insure through:
You should also make sure you file a police report. At the time of writing this article, Virginia law requires you to file a police report within 24 hours of the accident. Ideally you would do this while still at the scene of the accident. The insurer might also require a police report because it can help them with the claims process.
Filing a claim is never fun, but what's worse is finding out you don't have the right coverage. This is one of the main reasons why so many people choose to use an insurance agent for their insurance policies, instead of signing up for a basic policy online. Agents are there to make recommendations so you can be sure you don't have vulnerable spots in your insurance. We are also there to answer your questions and make sure you understand what it is you're purchasing.
At the end of the day, accidents happen (that's why we have insurance!). Hopefully you have an insurance agent who has done the work for you to make sure you have the proper coverage on your auto insurance policy.