"I was in an auto accident!" What companies don't want you to know.
Unfortunately, accidents happen! What you should do depends on the severity of the accident and who is at-fault! Insurance carriers vary slightly on how they advise customers on how to handle claims. Here are my recommendations:
1. Check if anyone is injured! If so, call 911! They can walk you through how best to help the injured person until EMS arrives.
2. If you can steer it, clear it! Move vehicles out of traffic if possible. This will prevent further damage and possible injuries! If necessary, stay in your vehicle! Never leave the scene of the accident!
3. Call the police. (I know many people do not call law enforcement for minor accidents - and you are not required to. I "get" that it can take a long time for police to arrive. If you are COMPLETELY comfortable with waiting to report the accident, you can wait. If you have ANY doubt about the other driver or who is at-fault - wait for law enforcement.)
4. Get Driver's License information, Insurance information, License plate number, and Driver's phone numbers.
5. Do not admit fault nor share the limits of your insurance.
6. Here is where things change depending on your coverage:
A. You are At-Fault (do not admit it) and you carry liability only - Call your Carrier.
B. You are At-Fault (do not admit it) and you carry liability and collision - Call your Carrier
C. You are NOT At-Fault and the other driver does not have insurance and you carry UM/UIM coverage - Call your Carrier.
D. You are NOT At-Fault and the other driver does not have insurance and you carry collision - Call your Carrier.
E. You are NOT At-Fault and the other driver carries insurance - Call the OTHER Carrier.
7. If the car needs to be towed, law enforcement will have tow trucks on scene. The tow driver will take your vehicle to the repair shop of your choice. Many tow drivers will recommend a shop. You are not obligated to use that repair facility but, you can.
8. Rental Car:
A. You are At-Fault (do not admit it) and you carry liability only - You do not have coverage.
B. You are At-Fault (do not admit it) and you carry Rental/Loss of Use - Order a Rental Car.
C. You are NOT At-Fault and the other driver does not have insurance and you carry Rental/Loss of Use - Order a Rental Car.
D. You are NOT At-Fault and the other driver carries insurance - Call the OTHER Carrier.
Order a rental car after you have a claim number. If you are filing on the OTHER DRIVER'S insurance, the rental car company may require you to have a credit card on file. Since the insurance carrier has not investigated the claim yet - they can not guarantee the rental car. Once fault has been determined, (a couple of days) you will be refunded if they find the other driver at-fault. If you are filing on YOUR insurance, you might still need to put a card on file but, more than likely, will not be charged. If this is a financial problem - call your insurance carrier.
If you have any questions before filing a claim, call your agent!