Unfortunately, car accidents happen. If you have the misfortune to find yourself involved in one, would you know what steps to take? In this month’s article we will outline exactly what you need to do, should you find yourself involved in an accident.

Stop your vehicle

However minor an accident may be, you must stop your vehicle. Failing to do so is actually an offence under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Ensure that your vehicle engine is switched off and turn on your hazard warning lights, so other road users can see your vehicle.

Who to call after an accident takes place

Firstly, assess the severity of the situation. If anyone has sustained an injury, call 999 for the police and, if needed, an ambulance. If an emergency response isn’t necessary, call the police using the non-emergency number, 101. You need to inform the police if the accident means a vehicle is blocking the road.

You must also call the police if you feel the accident was deliberate and you think you may be a victim of a ‘crash for cash’ scheme. This is where the driver of a vehicle intentionally causes an accident in order to make a fraudulent insurance claim. The Insurance Fraud Bureau reported that an estimated 170,000 car insurance claims over a 15-month period, October 2019 – January 2021, were suspected to have been linked to ‘crash for cash’ gangs.

Car accidents should be reported to the police within 24 hours. Failure to do so could result in a fine, penalty points or even a driving disqualification.

What details to give

If you are involved in a car accident, under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, you are required to give your name and address to any other parties involved. If you crash into something on or near the road and no other people are involved, you should stop and pass on your details. For example, if you run in to a parked car, you should leave your contact details on the windscreen so the owner of the affected vehicle can get in touch with you.

If you are involved in an accident, avoid apologising or admitting any liability until you know exactly what happened. It is an automatic reaction to apologise, but this could go against you and your insurance claim.

What details to collect

You should collect the name, address, and contact details of any drivers and passengers involved, plus those of anyone who witnessed the accident. Ask the drivers involved for their car insurance details. If they aren’t the registered keeper of the vehicle, for example, the car is owned by their friend or family member and they are borrowing it, take the name and address of the registered keeper also.

Make a note of the registration plates of the vehicles involved, including vehicle make, model and colour.

Call 999 immediately if someone leaves the scene of an accident without giving their details.

Other information to make a note of

Whilst the information is fresh in your memory, make a note of the date and time of the accident, the number of people in each vehicle, a rough sketch showing the position of the vehicles involved and a description of the weather conditions at the time of the accident. Make a list of any damage to the vehicles involved plus a note of any injuries sustained by the drivers, passengers, or pedestrians.

If you have a camera on your mobile phone, take photos so you have documented evidence.

It is especially important to note the number of passengers in the other vehicles involved if you suspect you are the victim of a ‘crash for cash’ insurance scam.

Contact your insurance provider

Inform your insurance provider about the accident as soon as you are able to do so. The length of time you have to file an insurance claim varies between providers – the time frame can be anything from 2 days to 2 weeks after the accident, so be sure to check your policy wording very carefully. If you fail to notify them within the time frame specified in your insurance policy, you may invalidate your cover and be left with a substantial bill to pay.

You should always inform your car insurance provider if you are involved in an accident, even if you don’t want to submit a claim.

Buckingham Insurance has a dedicated Motor Claims Line, operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Information to pass on to your insurer

Your insurance provider will need as much information about the accident as possible. This is where any sketches you made or photos you took at the time come in very useful.

If the accident involved another vehicle, you will need to let your insurance provider know the drivers name, address and contact details, plus their vehicle registration plate and the name of their insurance provider. Your insurance provider will make direct contact with the other party’s insurance provider.

Be sure to pass on the names and contact details of any witnesses who are able to support your claim.

Tony Buckingham, Managing Director of Buckingham Insurance says, “Buckingham Insurance is proud to offer our customers a dedicated Motor Claims Line that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you are involved in a car accident, no matter what time of day, help is on hand to assist you with your claim.

If you have any questions regarding motor insurance, please don’t hesitate to contact us or telephone one of our friendly staff on 01246 575 625 (Clowne) or 01773 748 627 (Ripley). They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.”