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5 Things to Do After a Car Accident

How to Prepare for Filing Your Car Insurance Claim

Every year, an estimated 6 million accidents occur on roadways in the U.S. No one wants to get into a wreck or deal with the nuisance of an accident’s aftermath.

If you do get into an accident, make sure that you take precautions to protect yourself. Do this by understanding what your legal and contractual obligations are in the situation.

Some people may decide to work out a settlement with the other party. This involves inherent risks that you should understand before pursuing this option. Make that sure that everybody is on the same page.

If at any time one party wants to involve their insurance company, the chances are likely that yours will get involved as well. Prepare for the worst-case scenario even if you’re hoping for the best. Here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Think Safety First

After an accident, pull over to the side of the road if possible, check for injuries and call 911, if needed. If you’re a AAA member, consider if you will need emergency roadside assistance services.

Two men exchange information on their cellular phones after an accident, to illustrate the need for robust levels of car insurance.
It’s a good idea to take time to ensure you have the right car insurance—before you run into any trouble on the road. Connect with a AAA agent to learn more about car insurance here. Photo: AdobeStock

2. Get Necessary Information

If you’re able to handle the situation, you should go into fact-finding mode. Collect the following information.

  • Name, address, phone number of all drivers
  • Name, address, phone number of all passengers or witnesses
  • Driver’s license numbers and license-plate numbers
  • Insurance companies of all drivers involved
  • Registered owners of all cars
  • Year, model, make, etc. of all cars involved

3. Limit Your Statements

You should avoid discussing the details of the accident with anyone but the police. Do not say the accident was your fault and avoid making accusations. These comments may be used against you.

4. Start Your Documentation

If you’re able, jot down what you believed happened during the accident, noting the time and road conditions. Take photos of the damage from all sides of your vehicle, as well as any other vehicles involved.

In the case of an unoccupied vehicle, try to locate the owner. If you’re unsuccessful, leave a note with your name and number, but also notify police.

Car insurance for modified cars
Your AAA agent can guide you through everything you need to know about car insurance. Don’t have an insurance agent? Connect with a AAA agent here.

5. Talk to Your Insurance Agent

Do you know if you are required to notify your insurance company or not? Talk with your insurance agent and get advice — even if you are planning to settle without filing an insurance claim.

To learn more about the essentials of car insurance, click here.

– Written by Jim Davis, last updated in January 2023.

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