Handling Auto Claims: What to Do Immediately After the Crash
Even the calmest, most well-centered people can have trouble keeping a clear head in the first minutes following an auto accident. To help you know what to do immediately following the accident, we talked with Heather Ross, our dedicated in-house Claims Advocate at Morris & Garritano.
No one ever hopes to be involved in an auto accident, but in the event you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, knowing what to do and feeling prepared can help alleviate anxiety.
Even the calmest, most well-centered people can have trouble keeping a clear head in the first minutes following an auto accident. Heather Ross, our dedicated in-house Claims Advocate at Morris & Garritano, reports frequently getting calls from clients who have just been in an accident and can’t remember what they ought to do next. She’s even had people try to call in auto claims while standing next to their smashed-up vehicle in the center divider of the freeway!
When to Report Auto Claims
“Before you call us,” Heather starts, “please make sure you’re safe. Assess the situation and see if everyone else is okay. If your vehicle is safe to drive, move it out of the flow of traffic. Don’t get out of your vehicle unless you can do so safely.”
“Then,” Heather continues, “you should call 911.” Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the police may decline to come out – for example, if the accident occurs on private property, or if it’s a minor accident without any injuries – even so, it’s best to make the call and let them decide.
What to Do After the Crash
Next, exchange insurance information with the other party. Heather notes that here, your cell phone can be your best friend. Try to get the other party’s name, driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance information, and phone number. A lot of useful information can be gathered by simply photographing the other party’s insurance card, vehicle registration, and driver’s license. If it’s safe to do so, take pictures of the damage to both vehicles, as well as the other party’s license plate and any logos/decals identifying the owner of the vehicle. If you prefer a pen and paper model, Morris & Garritano has created a simple one-page incident report that makes it easy to gather the most important information about an accident; if you’d like a copy, please contact our office. Sometimes circumstances won’t allow you to exchange information with the other party. If that’s the case, don’t worry; the other party should be identified in the police report. It can take a few weeks for the police report to be available, however, so the more information you can gather at the scene, the more tools your insurance company will have to get started on your claim.
One last thought Heather adds is about those first nerve-jarring minutes after an auto accident. “Don’t admit fault, and don’t take the other party’s admission of fault too seriously,” she says. The other party is most likely just as shaken as you are, and adrenaline-fueled utterances frequently morph into something quite different when everyone calms down. “If you can, just take down the names and numbers of any witnesses to the accident; they can possibly help sort things out if liability is disputed.”
Help With Auto Claims
Once you’re back home or in the office, and have taken a deep breath, give your insurance company – or us – a call. We’re here to help throughout the claims process.
You can reach out to our dedicated team of advocates and experts here at Morris & Garritano. Contact your Account Manager or, if you aren’t a client yet, Dan Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to a risk advisor in our office.