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What to do if you’ve had a car accident

Being in a car accident is stressful enough without having to hunt around to find out what to do to make a claim on your insurance. Here are the simple steps you need to take to help make a claim quickly and effectively.

Immediately after an accident:

  • You must stop, no matter how minor you think the accident is. Failure to stop is an offence and could even result in a prison sentence.
  • Call 999 if yourself or anyone else has been injured, or if you have suspicions that the accident may be part of a crash for cash scheme. A dash cam can be helpful in identifying these schemes. 
  • At the scene collect as much information as you can, including photographs, sketches of the vehicle positions and notes. Some useful information to note down would be:
    • Date, time of day, location, weather conditions, traffic conditions, any road markings or signs.
    • The vehicle make, model, registration number, condition, colour, estimated speed, direction, use of lights and indicators, and number of passengers.
    • Details about the driver, including contact information and a description.
    • Make a note of any witnesses, including passengers, onlookers or police officers, and if possible get their contact details too.
    • Make a note of any damage to the vehicles or to any property, as well as any injuries caused.  
  • Give your details to anyone else involved. If anyone is injured, It is essential that you provide your insurance details.

    This means swapping your name and address with someone you may have crashed into, or leaving your details on the windscreen of a parked car that you may have hit. Even if no one has been injured, swapping details can be useful as it may help to speed up the claims process.

  • Avoid saying sorry or taking any blame for the accident until you know exactly what happened, as this could affect the claim further down the line.

If for some reason you have been unable to exchange details, then you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours. Failure to do so could result in a fine, penalty points, or even disqualification.

Making an insurance claim

  • Phone your insurer as soon as possible. You will need to inform them of the accident during the time period set out on your policy, which can be anything from two days to two weeks. Otherwise you risk your policy becoming invalid.

  • Inform your insurance company about all accidents, even if you don’t want to make a claim.

  • If the accident involved another driver, you will need to provide your insurance company with:
    • Their name, address and contact details
    • Their vehicle registration number
    • Their insurance details

You will also need to provide your insurer with details of the accident (this is where those notes, photos and sketches come in handy!).

If possible, you should also provide your insurer with the details of any witnesses who are able to support your claim.

What happens now that I’ve made a claim?

Your insurance company will talk you through what happens next with your specific claim. If other people were involved, then your insurance company will work with theirs in order to resolve the claims.