TRENTON, N.J. – If you've ever been in an accident, you know things can be chaotic immediately after a crash, but following some basic steps can make filing your claim a little easier says the Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey.
First and foremost, if someone is injured, call 911, said Charles Caruso, CIC, CPIA, PIANJ president. "Think about your safety and those around you first. Stay calm; being in a car accident is scary but getting upset can only make things worse."
Before you start gathering information from the other driver, it's important to get to safety as quickly as possible, advises PIANJ. If you had a minor fender bender, you don't have to leave the cars where they are. If it's safe, move out of the way of traffic. However, if you can't move your car without causing further damage, don't try.
If you're in a crash PIANJ says, it's important to get the following information of the people involved:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Make, model and year of the car
- License plate number
- Insurance carrier
- Insurance policy number
If possible, take photos of the damage to your vehicle; accident location and the people involved in the accident.
If the police have been called, ask the officer for a copy of the accident report. It may take up to a couple of days before it is filed. The policeman's opinion of the accident will be useful if the drivers have a dispute about who was to blame. The police report also will have the officer's information on it in case the officer is needed to testify.
Neither the other driver nor the police will need your Social Security number, so don't give it to them, says PIANJ
"Call your independent insurance agent immediately after a crash to start processing your claim, advises Caruso. Professional, independent agents always are there for customers to guide them through the claims process.
Before an Accident
Make sure that your automobile is insured properly before an incident, says PIANJ. Being prepared can prevent stress after an accident. Keep a copy of your insurance information and a pen and paper in your car; it will make the post-accident process much easier. "You are required to have proof of your insurance with you, and insurers provide cards that carry all of your relevant insurance information," Caruso said.
PIANJ is a trade association representing professional, independent insurance agencies, brokerages and their employees throughout the state.