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Six things NOT to do after a car accident

April 14, 2010

A car accident can be a very traumatic experience in itself for drivers, and confusion regarding what to do and what not to do can make matters worse. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, make sure you don’t do any of the things on this list.

1.  Don’t admit fault. Even if you believe you are responsible for the accident, nothing will be gained by saying so to the other driver or a police officer. The fault of the accident will ultimately be determined by the insurance adjuster based on pre-determined guidelines set out in the Insurance Act.  At the same time, do be sure to give the police officer an honest account of the facts when you are questioned.

2.  Don’t argue with the other driver. Remain calm and give your account of the incident to the police officer.

3.  Don’t leave your car in the middle of the road. If it is safe to do so, move the car off to the side of the road. If the car is not drivable, turn on the hazard lights.

4.  Don’t be pressured by a tow truck driver. Some may demand immediate payment for the tow or may try to intimidate you into letting them tow your vehicle to a repair facility of their choice. Ask one of the police officers at the scene of the accident if they can refer you to a tow truck operator. Then ask the tow truck operator to tow your vehicle to a collision reporting facility.

5.  Don’t authorize major repairs immediately. Wait until you speak to the insurance adjuster assigned to your insurance claim first. The adjuster may refer you to a repair facility with which your insurance company has an agreement.  By using your insurer’s “preferred” repair facility, the repair may come with a guarantee which you may not have otherwise received by going somewhere else.

6.  Don’t accept a direct offer of payment for damage from the other driver. If the damage seems minor, the other driver may want to settle with you right away, and not report it to your respective insurance companies. Be cautious in this situation, because there is no guarantee that the incident will not be reported by the other driver, even if you believe everything has been settled.  It is also important to realize that settling for direct payment may not be as advantageous as it seems, especially if you are not at fault. In these instances the accident won’t affect your driving record nor will you have to pay a deductible.

Most importantly, don’t assume that just because you’ve been in an accident that you will always pay a lot for car insurance. Different insurance companies target different types of business and their rates can change up to four times per year. In fact, some insurance companies are focused on insuring drivers with less than perfect driving ecords. The challenge is finding those companies.  Comparison sites like InsuranceHotline.com can help by instantly comparing the rates of over 30 insurance companies to find you the lowest rate available for your profile.  It’s fast, safe and completely free to use.