The Process And Legal Side Of A Car Accident

caraccidentWhen we renew our car insurance policies every year, we never like to think that we’re actually going to have to use our insurance because someone has crashed into us, or because of a theft or fire incident which concerns our vehicle. Road accidents happen every day of the year and it is upsetting and frightening if you are involved. However well prepared you think you are, in the heat of the moment it is easy to lose sight of the things you must do in the immediate aftermath of a car accident.

Injury and Police

If there is anyone injured, that is the immediate priority. Call the emergency services right away but do not move casualties unless there is a danger such as fire. Stop the traffic and make sure everyone stays clear. In cases where there is nobody injured but there is damage to property such as a lamp post, walls or fences, you should call the Police on the non-emergency number. They will attend as soon as possible and it is important to get any incident report number from the officers that you speak to.

Photos and Details

Take photographs of the scene of the accident as soon as you can, before any cars are moved. A picture is worth a thousand words and images taken on a mobile phone can be valuable later when you are trying to explain the sequence of events to insurers. Make sure you write down the make, model and registration numbers of all the cars involved and get the name, address and phone numbers of all other drivers and witnesses. If you do not have your insurance details to hand don’t worry; you can be tracked down through your vehicle number and other personal details.

Insurance Company

If your car can be driven, it is probably easiest to drive home and start making phone calls to the insurance company. Many companies now use claims handling people and they will manage the whole process from picking up your own car, assessing it for repair, providing you with a hire car and negotiating with the other driver’s insurer to assess who is at fault. In other cases, you will have to deal with the process yourself, by completing forms detailing what happened, arranging for your car to be taken to an approved dealer and liaising with the insurer over repairs.


If the damage to your car is considerable, it may be deemed uneconomical to repair it. This means that the cost of the repair needed is higher than the value of the vehicle and this is commonly known as the vehicle having been “written-off”. In these circumstances, you will have to agree a fair price with the insurer for your car. It is obviously in the insurer’s interest to give you as little as possible, so expect to have to haggle with them to achieve a fair price. Do some homework to find out what similar vehicles with similar mileage are selling for and don’t simply accept the first figure quoted.

New Car

If your car has been written off, there are a couple of alternatives. You can use your insurer’s pay out to purchase or put down a deposit on a newer car, or you can use your own money to make up the difference. It is also worth looking into the concept of vehicle replacement gap insurance next time you renew your insurance. Vehicle replacement gap insurance is designed to bridge the gap between what the insurer pays out for a written off vehicle and the cost of getting a similar new vehicle. It is similar to a “new for old” clause on home contents insurance and is definitely something worth considering.

Stuart Edge is a writer who understands the importance of starting the claims process soon after your car is involved in an incident. He recommends researching the benefits of vehicle replacement gap insurance if your vehicle is written off and you are forced to replace it.

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