Pull Over and Call the Police
After any accident, the first thing to do is get your vehicle off the road and in a safe area – look for a parking lot, a side street, or even the shoulder – away from other traffic. The second (and most important!) thing to do is call the police, regardless of how bad the accident is or whether or not there appears to be any damage. Even in a minor accident, or what police call an “unreportable accident,” calling the police is a way to protect yourself because at the very least the officer will verify the personal and insurance information of each driver. If the other driver gives you false info and you accept it and leave the scene, now you have a damaged vehicle on your hands and no idea who hit you or where to find him/her. A few minutes spent waiting for the officer to arrive can save you from having to submit a claim with your insurance company for an accident that wasn’t your fault.
Guilty motorists often drag their feet in ‘fessing up’ to their insurer – or fail to tell on themselves at all – so it’s crucial that you gather as much information from them at the scene of the accident:
- Driver’s name, address, and phone number
- Insurance company name and phone number
- Insurance Policy Number
- Insurance Agent’s Name & Address
- Contact Info & Statements From Witnesses
Contact your Insurance Company
You’ll need to disclose a crash to collect your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, which covers medical expenses and lost wages, even though you are not to blame (not to worry, insurance premium’s will not increase due to a PIP claim).
- Inform them you’ve been in an accident
- Disclose property damages or injuries
- Relay facts of the accident, including the at-fault party’s contact and insurance info
Contact The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
Even though it is each person’s responsibility to contact their own insurance company, it’s a good idea for you to contact the at-fault driver’s company as well, since they may delay reporting. This insurance company will give some direction about how they will handle the claim and what the next steps are.
You may be required to obtain a written authorization from the insurance company before taking your car in for repairs or receiving medical treatment. If this is the case, and an adjuster hasn’t given you a prior go-ahead, you may run into difficulties. Request a faxed or e-mailed version to speed up the process
Choice of Vendors Is Yours
Keep in mind the insurance companies cannot demand that you receive repairs from a specific shop. The state of Pennsylvania allows you to select your own repair facility.
When you are a claimant (the other party’s insurance is paying for the repairs), you are entitled to a rental car while your car is being repaired. To prevent having to pay for a portion of your rental, select a rental car that is similar to the one you own and return it promptly when your vehicle is repaired. Only rent a car if your own is in the shop or unsafe to drive. If the insurance company attempts to cut the amount of reimbursement, ask for their reason in writing; remember, this accident was not your fault, and you shouldn’t have to pay for it.