Car Insurance: What to Do After an Accident
North Carolina law requires that you report any accident that results in injury, deaths, or $1000 or more in property damage. While the law does not specify when you should do this, your auto insurance policy may. Many require you to notify law enforcement immediately. It is best to call from the scene. If you can, stay in place. If your vehicle is causing disruptions in traffic or is a hazard for other drivers, move it safely to the side of the road if possible. If that is not possible, set up road flares and/or turn on your hazard lights.
But what if it is a little fender bender? Hardly any damage done, right? Well… hopefully. But it is exceptionally difficult to assess damage at the scene. Your bumper, for example, may appear to have a few scratches or dings. Not ideal, but it could be worse. However, you may not be able to see underlying damage or whether components shifted and are at risk for wear or interfering with other car parts. There could be hidden issues that may be costly to fix - or even dangerous if you continue driving.
So, our advice: always call and report the accident! Again, your auto insurance company likely requires it anyway, and you will need a report in order to access coverage for repairs. From there, North Carolina requires law enforcement to investigate “reportable” accidents and create a written report within 24 hours. You can obtain a copy for $5 from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.
Law enforcement may not respond to a scene for various reasons. If this is the case with you, make sure to file a crash report yourself. In this include:
- Description of the crash (number of passengers, etc.)
- Name and insurance information of other driver and you
- Names of witnesses and accounts of the accident
- Description of damages and injuries (again, police should respond if there are injuries; if they do not, note these carefully - and seek medical attention as soon as you can).
- A sketch or diagram of the scene
- Photos or video of the damage, scene, and witness accounts, if possible
File this with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles as soon as possible.
After you contact law enforcement, report the accident to your insurance company. Your policy will have specific guidelines; some require you to report within 48 or 72 hours. Others want immediate notification. Again, it is best to call them as soon as possible, even from the scene.
From there, your insurance company assigns a claims adjustor to your case. This will be your contact person going forward. They’ll look at accident reports, speak with witnesses, review the scene, examine vehicle damage, and coordinate repairs and medical treatments, if necessary. One of their key jobs is to determine fault.
While they are doing this, you can begin auto repairs immediately. Your insurance company will cover the damage per the terms of your policy. After they assess fault, they determine how to proceed. If you are found at fault, they pay, and you may see some rate increases in your future. If the other party is at fault, they will go after reimbursement from that party’s insurance provider.
Contact First Aid Collision
Your safety and wellbeing are of the utmost concern; if you are involved in an accident, it is a smart idea to go to the emergency room to get checked out and to get a clean bill of health. In the aftermath of a crash, the adrenaline is pumping, and this can mask symptoms and injuries. Better safe than sorry, as they say.
Next, it’s time to think about your vehicle. Repairing even “minor” damage is essential. If left, rust can begin to take hold and, as mentioned, you may have hidden damage that can become a safety risk.
Contact First Aid Collision as soon as you can. Our experienced team will fully assess your vehicle, identify any accident-related damage, and begin work to get your car back on the road for you as soon as possible.
No one wants to be in a car accident, obviously! But if you are, know that you have an ally in First Aid Collision. We are here to help you navigate the process and assist you in your insurance claim in any way we can.