Have you ever been in a car accident? Have you ever been the one driving when you were in a car accident? College students have enough stress to deal with as it is. Getting into a car accident takes an undergrad’s blood pressure to a boil. The experience can be scary and confusing, I should I know…I just went through it myself. Let me give you some advice.
Right after hitting another car or being hit, you may be frazzled; but it’s important to pull over in a safe place. If your car is no longer running you don’t really have a choice where you stop, but if you can keep driving, do not stop on the side of a busy street. This is especially true on a freeway. Not only does your car cause traffic to back up, but other cars can get into an accident. People notoriously slow down to look at the damage on your car. So, stay calm and get yourself some place safe like a parking lot or a residential street.
It can be kind of scary to pull over at night and get out of your car, especially if you are a woman. When finding a safe place to pull over, look for a place that is well lit and well populated. Most people will do their best to follow you to wherever it is you want to pull over; they want to get your insurance information just as much as you want theirs. However, if they don’t pull over, you should call the police. Leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging information and checking if everyone is in need of medical help is against the law.
Once everyone is safe, you have to deal with the confusing stuff: the insurance information. Actually, it’s not really complicated once you know what you’re looking for. If you have car insurance, and you should, you need to keep your insurance ID card in your car at all times. This card will have the make and model of your car as well as the year of your car and the policy number.
Take photos of each other’s insurance cards and license plates as well as pictures or any damage done to the car. You should also get contact information from any witnesses that may be present at the scene.
You can call the police officer who responded to your accident if they gave you their business card or you can call the police station. You’ll be able to get the report from the police station or the court house. With this report, you will be able to submit your claim to the insurance company.
It is best to call your insurance company and speak to a claims specialist or use the company’s website. Most insurance companies have a simple online form to help you submit your claim. Once you have filled this out, a specialist will call to get a statement and ask a few questions. You will then be instructed to arrange an appointment in order to assess the damage to your car and get an assessment.
Before taking your car in make sure you clean out your trunk and your glove box. Unfortunately, personal belongings often go missing when you leave them in your car at the body shop. You will also want to make sure you bring along your claim number to your appointment. A specialist will assess the damage and then you will schedule a time to drop off your car to have it fixed. Most dealerships will not allow you to rent a car until you’re 21 or 23 and have a credit card so you may need to carpool for a while.
With a little luck, you’ll be back on the road in a week or two. Drive safe everyone.