Steps to Take Immediately After a Car Accident (For Insurance)

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

So you’ve been in a car accident. What should you do immediately after a car accident? How do you deal with your insurance company? Today, we’re explaining the steps you should take immediately after a car accident when dealing with your insurer.

The absolute first priority is to check to see if anybody needs urgent medical care.

The next step is to move the vehicles to a safe place if necessary (if possible, leave your vehicles in place).

Next, contact the police.

Okay, we’ve covered the basics. Now, it’s time to worry about the fun stuff: how should you deal with your insurance company? What else should you do after a car accident? Keep reading to find out.

Steps to Take Immediately After a Car Accident

First, Avoid Discussing Details of the Accident with the Other Driver

Your first priority, from an insurance perspective, is to avoid discussing aspects of the collision with the other driver. Even something as simple as an apology can indicate responsibility for the accident in the United States. Reserve discussions of the accident for the police, medical professionals, and your insurance company’s representative.

Get the Facts from the Accident

Due to the stress of the accident, this is one of the most common mistakes people make after an accident: they forget to get the facts.

The most important details to get include the names, addresses, and phone numbers of everyone involved in the accident. Consider adding a description of the cars involved in the accident (their make and model) and their license plate numbers, as well as each vehicle’s identification number. Don’t just assume the license plate number will be sufficient: many insurance companies don’t even bother recording the license plate number – they just record the type of car and the VIN.

If you didn’t get this information, then don’t panic! Others at the scene might have collected it. The police, if they were involved, likely have the names and numbers of everyone involved.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Whether you’re still at the accident scene or you’re safely at home, it’s time to contact your insurance company.

You’re going to call either your insurance agent or your insurance company’s emergency claims number. Call this number immediately – like from the scene of the accident, if possible.

If you call from the scene of the accident, then the insurance company might ask to talk to a police officer attending the scene. The police officer might be able to provide more detailed information – especially if you’re upset or otherwise indisposed as a result of the accident.

Begin Filing Your Accident Claim

Your insurance company will begin filing your claim soon after you contact them. The insurance agent assigned to your case might walk you through the process of filing your claim.

Some insurance companies have an even easier process: they have a mobile app or an online form. In any case, talk to your insurance company or insurance agent to learn how to begin the claims process.

Yes, You Should Take Pictures

It might be your first instinct to take pictures of the accident on your mobile device. This is a great idea!

Take out your phone and take pictures of all the relevant details of the accident (assuming it’s safe to do so). Take photos of the other car’s VIN, their license plate, and any damage to your vehicle.

The more images you have, the better. These images will be particularly useful for property damage images. Try to take images that show the position of the vehicles, including how the vehicles were positioned in relation to each other and how they were positioned on the street.

What Should Be Included in My Accident Report?

Some of the most important things to add in your accident report include:

  • Information about what happened
  • Information about the driver or drivers involved in the collision (name, address, contact info, etc.)
  • The name of the other driver’s insurance company; the policy number for the other driver’s insurance policy
  • The description of vehicles involved in the collision, including the make, model, and year
  • The vehicle identification numbers of vehicles involved in the collision
  • The license plate numbers of vehicles involved in the collision
  • The date and time of the accident
  • The address or approximate location of the accident
  • The road you’re currently on and the nearest cross street
  • The direction you were traveling in
  • Notes on driving conditions (weather, visibility, etc.)
  • The names and contact information of any witnesses
  • The name, badge numbers, and contact information for any police officers who responded to the incident

Make sure you get this information after the accident. You’ll need some or all of this information to file an insurance claim. Make sure you have a detailed account of what happened (from your point of view) during the collision. Take lots of photos.

The Final Word on What to Do After an Accident

To recap, immediately after an accident you should:

  • See if anybody is injured or needs immediate medical attention
  • Move your vehicle to a safe location off the road
  • Contact law enforcement to report the accident
  • Gather insurance information from the other driver
  • Record accident details, take pictures, and gather other relevant information
  • Contact your insurance company to report the accident
  • File a claim with your insurance company

Follow the above tips to ensure you’re doing your best to prepare for your insurance claim. The sooner you start recording all relevant details, the easier your insurance claim will be.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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