COLUMBUS – According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more than 5 million motor vehicle accidents occur every year. If you were in an accident, would you know what information you need for an insurance claim? The Ohio Department of Insurance offers these easy to follow tips to get the necessary information following a crash.
“To help avoid an accident, drive at a safe speed, be sure to give yourself enough space between the cars around you, and always wear your seatbelt,” Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor said. “Drivers should review their auto policy to better understand their coverage and work with their agent to make sure they have the appropriate level of protection should an accident occur.”
Before you hit the road, it’s important to understand your auto insurance policy. Always keep a copy of your current insurance card in the car with registration. Keep a copy of your insurance card in your wallet.
Ask your insurance agent to explain the important elements of your policy to you, including your deductible and liability limits. You may even want to consider adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to your policy if your insurance provider offers it. This coverage will protect you if you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, and the accident was their fault.
If you are a parent with a teen driver, sit down with them and talk about the risks of unsafe driving before you hand over the keys. Research shows that teens whose parents establish rules associated with driving privileges are less likely to get in a crash.
After an Accident
Getting into an accident can be stressful and chaotic. It’s difficult to remember what to do immediately following a wreck. Many people are unsure about what information they need to share with and collect from the other driver. You only need to typically provide your name and insurance information, including the insurance company, their agent and policy number. Divulging more than that, such as your address or driver’s license number, could put you at risk for identity fraud.
To help take the worry out of collecting information and filing an insurance claim, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), in which the Ohio Department of Insurance is a member, developed WRECKCHECK, a free mobile app for iPhones and Android devices.
This award-winning app walks you through a step-by-step process to create an accident report. WRECKCHECK allows you to take photos of the scene and document only what is necessary to file an insurance claim. You can even send the completed accident report to yourself and your insurance agent. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can download a printable checklist here to keep in your glove compartment.
WRECKCHECK also provides tips on what to do immediately following an accident:
Remain calm and assess the scene. Do not get out of your car if it is not safe to do so.
Call the police and inform them of any injuries. If the police are not dispatched, file an incident report. This may assist you with your claim.
Be courteous, but do not admit fault.
Get names and contact information of any witnesses.
Filing the Claim
It’s best to start the claims process as soon as possible while the details of the accident are still fresh in your mind. When you call your insurance company or agent, have available the police or incident report, your insurance information, and a copy of the accident report that you created at the scene. Take notes, including the name and contact information of the person you spoke with, during any conversations you have with insurance companies, claims adjusters or auto repair shops.
Your insurance company should be able to file the claim and work with the other insurance companies on your behalf. Keep in mind that you may be asked to do an interview with the other driver’s insurance company so that they can investigate the circumstances of the accident as well. A claims adjuster or auto repair shop will likely examine the damage to the car and talk with you about the accident. Your insurance company will use the adjuster’s findings as the basis of their settlement.
Talk to your insurance company about whose coverage will pay for damages to the vehicles, rental car expenses, or medical costs as a result of the accident. Some of these expenses will depend on who is at fault, what coverages are on your policy, and what state you live in.
Ohioans with insurance questions or concerns can call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526 and visit www.insurance.ohio.gov for free information. You can follow the Ohio Department of Insurance on Facebook and twitter. For more information and tips on how to save money on your premiums, visit www.InsureUonline.org.