A car accident can be a very distressing experience. We sincerely hope that you aren’t involved in an incident but if you are it is crucial, perhaps even lifesaving, that you know what to do. Remember your insurance company are here to help you, so make sure you let them know as soon as possible. Here’s our step by step guide to what to do if you have an accident:
1. Stop as soon as you can
However minor you think a car accident is, you must stop. In fact, failing to do so is an offence under the Road Traffic Act.¹ Turn your engine off and remain at the scene for as long as necessary. Turn on your hazard warning lights if appropriate.
If you leave your car, make sure you and everyone else is in a safe place and away from moving traffic. This is particularly important if you are on a motorway – if possible, stay well away from the traffic, the hard shoulder and central reservation.²
2. Contact the emergency services
Take a look around and if you suspect that anyone has been injured in the accident, you should call an ambulance and the police as soon as possible. The police should also be called if the incident is blocking the road. Depending on the severity of the collision, you may also need to call the fire and rescue services.
All insurethebox policies include Accident Alert as standard. The black box fitted in your car can sense any strong impact on the car. If we are unable to contact you and your car is stationary we will assess all the circumstances relating to the incident, such as the location, the time of day and the force of the impact. If we think it is appropriate, we will attempt to contact the emergency services and request that they attend.
Please note we are not able to guarantee that the emergency services will attend in these circumstances, so you should still attempt to contact them yourself if it is necessary and you are able to. Don’t forget to notify us of any incident.
3. Exchange details
All drivers involved (regardless of who you think was at fault) should swap names, addresses, telephone numbers, vehicle registrations numbers, insurance company details and if possible, policy numbers.
If you are concerned the other driver is not insured, collect their name, address, vehicle registration, make, model and colour and contact your insurance company who can check for you and offer guidance. You will also need to provide the owner’s name and address if the vehicle is not yours and vice versa.
If you are the driver of a vehicle involved and the owner’s insurance details were not exchanged at the scene, or if you sustained an injury, you must report the incident in person at a police station within 24 hours.³
4. Record key details
Stay calm and collect as much evidence as possible. Unfortunately, accidents are seen by many people as an opportunity to make money. Imagine you gently bump into the back of another car, you apologise and agree with the other driver that there is no damage – the next thing you hear is that it is alleged you caused damage to their car and injuries to them and their passengers. Gathering evidence could help protect your own insurance record and prevent an act of fraud.
Photographs provide the most compelling evidence. If you can, take photos of the location, road markings, all vehicles (even if they appear to be undamaged), people involved in the accident and any damage to property.
Record the model and colour of the vehicle, the number of passengers, weather conditions and, if appropriate, the address of the police station involved.⁴
If you suspect that the other driver may have be intoxicated or using a mobile phone behind the wheel, make a note of this information and mention it to the police and your insurance company.
Get witness details from anyone who saw the accident, such as names, addresses and vehicle registrations.
5. Contact your insurance company
Call your insurance company as soon as possible after the incident. You must report the accident to your insurance company, even if you’re not planning to make a claim.
If you have an insurethebox policy, call our dedicated claims team on 0333 103 0030 as soon as possible after the accident.
- Make sure you and everyone else involved in the incident are safe.
- Stay calm – this will help you to think clearly and make you less likely to forget key details when relaying events later on.
- Gather as much evidence as possible – photographic evidence is best.
- Stay neutral – if the other driver is angry and trying to assign blame, keep your cool and remain impartial
- Speak to your insurance company as soon as you can after the accident.
Sources:  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/52/section/170