Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Jun 14, 2019

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Important facts to know...

  • After a car accident, you should get in a safe place and seek medical attention when necessary
  • After you drive your car home or it’s towed to a shop, you need to call your insurance company as soon as possible
  • It’s your duty as a policyholder to notify your insurance company if you get into a multi-car accident
  • You can call the other insurer to file a third-party claim, but it’s best for you to file your own claim
  • If you call your own insurer, your adjuster will protect you from unfair claims handling practices

You never know how you’ll act after a car accident until you have one. If you’re lucky, the accident will kick you into gear and you’ll be all about business.

Unfortunately, some people go through such a roller coaster of emotions after a wreck that their minds go completely blank when it comes down to what they should do next.

If you don’t take the right steps after you crash into a car or some other property, you could be left paying for the repairs that your car needs all by yourself. Even worse, you could be sued for damages by another party without having your insurer by your side.

Make sure you have the right insurance in place before you need it. Enter your zip code above to begin comparing quotes.

If you’re not sure who you’re supposed to call after an accident, here’s what you should know:

What is the first thing you should do after an accident?

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Your safety should be your primary concern. The very first thing you need to do is to stay calm. Don’t let the emotions that you’re feeling after the trauma lead you to make the wrong decisions in the aftermath of a collision.

Your first concern should be to prevent further injuries by getting out of the middle of the road and seeking treatment.

Your physical safety should be your first priority. After that, it’s your duty to move the vehicles involved out of the middle of the road. If the cars just stayed sitting in the middle of a busy road, there could be another accident.

If there’s no way that you can move the car without professional help, turn on your hazards and try to put emergency cones out so other drivers know to slow down.

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What information do you need to gather from the other driver?

If both you and the other driver are lucky enough to leave the accident without a scratch, you can start to gather the information you’ll need to file your claim.

You can decide if you want to file a claim or not, but if you have insurance and the damage is significant, you should file a claim so that you’re not left handling everything alone.

How smoothly your claim experience goes is directly correlated to how much information you collect when you’re still at the scene. Since you don’t have second chances to get information from the drivers involved, you need to do everything at the scene.

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Here are some of the things that you need to ask all of the people involved for:

  • License plate numbers of all of the vehicles involved
  • Driver’s name
  • Vehicle owner’s name
  • Vehicle year, make, and model
  • Insurance company, agent, and phone number
  • Policy number and expiration date
  • Driver’s address and license number directly from their license
  • Damage to property at the scene
  • Name and contact information for passengers and witnesses
  • Police name, jurisdiction, badge number, report number, time, and date

Taking Photos At the Scene Can Really Help

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Having witness statements will help the insurance company as they investigate, but pictures tell a thousand words. If you can safely exit your car and take the photos that are needed then you should. If you can’t do it safely, don’t risk it.

Here are photos you can take to accompany the information on your accident checklist:

  • Photos of the license plate numbers
  • Photos of damage to the other vehicles involved
  • Photos of damage to your vehicle
  • Photos of the marks in the street
  • Photos of landmarks, address markers, street signage, or other identifiers to show where the accident happened
  • Damage to property other than the cars (debris, trees, fences, etc.)

Call to See If a Police Report is Mandatory

Some states require anyone involved in an accident to call the police at the scene and others only require the call if there are injuries. If you don’t know the protocol, call the police department and ask.

Tell them about the wreck and ask for an officer to report to the scene to write a report.

If it’s busy, it’s possible the department will say it’s not necessary. If you still believe you need an officer to come, insist that they dispatch one to you so that you can get the help that you need. After the report is written, get the report number.

If you’re issued a ticket, you’ll have to tell the insurer because this is used to consider the fault allocation.

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Who should you call after the accident?

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After everything is handled at the scene and you’re safe at home you need to handle everything on the insurance end of things. If you know for a fact you didn’t cause the accident, you might want to call the driver’s agent instead of your own.

Doing this is an option but it’s not in your interest. You should always call your agent first.

Filing a claim with your insurer is best because your adjuster‘s job is to walk you through the process. They will investigate the loss and consider your best interest when making decisions.

If the other party is at fault, they will deal with the company to negotiate property value and other payouts. Without the adjuster’s help, the other company could easily take advantage of you.

You can file a third-party claim through your own company. This means that your company will do the heavy lifting and handle all of the annoying communications for you. If you’re not taken care of after calling your carrier, it might be best to switch companies.

You have the right to switch companies whenever you want. Get online quotes right now, consider the carrier’s reputation and only secure coverage with an honest company. Try our free tool today.