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After the Accident
- Contact Your Insurance Company: You should do this as soon as possible. Even if the accident was not your fault, you need to let them know. And if the accident was your fault, you need to find out how to file a claim.
- Figure out where to get your car repaired: Sometimes insurance companies will want you to bring your car to a specific shop. Unless this was written into your policy, you don't have to do this. But you do want to know if there are any conditions. For example, you may use a shop that charges more than the insurance company's estimate, in which case you could be responsible for the difference. It's better to figure out with the insurance company where you should get your car fixed before you take it anywhere.
- Contact the other driver's insurance company: You should also do this right away. Particularly if you believe the other driver was at fault, because if that's the case their insurance will pay for your damages and repairs.
- Think about whether you want to file a claim: If the cost of your repairs is just a little more than your deductible (and you were at fault in the accident), you may not want to file a claim. Remember that insurance companies charge more to people who have been in accidents and make claims. In the long run, your increased insurance premiums may cost you more than paying for all of the repairs out of your own pocket.
- Get copies of all files: You need to get copies of: the police report, the complete claim file, medical and repair bills and any other documents related to the accident. All of this information could become important (particularly if an insurance company makes a mistake or refuses to pay).
- Consider getting a lawyer: For most minor accidents, you won't need a lawyer. But if any of these things apply, you may need legal help:
- If the accident was major (particularly if someone was hurt badly)
- If the other motorist was uninsured
- If you haven't received any of the benefits that the insurance company owes you within 30 days, you may need legal help. Get information on how to find a lawyer. Just keep in mind that if a lawyer helps you get more money from an insurance company, your lawyer will get 25 percent or more of that money.