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What to do after a car accident

Natalie
Content Specialist

8.18.2021

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4 min read

It’s scary to think about being in a car accident. Let alone to think about how you’d cope in that situation. But, planning what to do after an accident can relieve a lot of uncertainty and upset when the unexpected happens. So, we’ve put together the steps you should follow, just in case. 

‍✋ Stop your car

The first thing to remember is that it’s a legal requirement to stop your car after you’ve hit something, whether that’s someone’s property, an animal or another car. 

If you can, pull your car over to a nearby layby or to another safe spot. Then turn off your engine, leaving your hazard lights on. If you’re on the motorway, pull over safely onto the hard shoulder. If you can’t move your car, make it and yourself as visible as possible. 

Get everyone out of the car, including pets if they’re with you. Stand in a safe place away from the road. 

🚨 Call the emergency services

Make sure everyone involved in the accident is ok. If someone is injured, call the emergency services right away on 999. 

You’ll also need to alert the police on 101 for non-emergency situations, which includes:

  • if your car is blocking the road and is a hazard to other drivers
  • if the other driver involved drove off after the accident
  • if you think you might be the victim of a “cash for crash” scam (where a driver deliberately crashes so they can make an insurance claim)
  • if you think drink or drugs might have been involved in the accident

Remember, there’s a risk of a fine, penalty points, or the removal of your license if you don’t report your accident to the police within 24 hours. 

✍️ Gather details 

Everyone involved in an accident should give their name and address to the other drivers. Even if you hit something off the road, like a parked car, you should stop and leave your contact details.

Ask all other drivers for their insurer details, and find out if they’re the registered keeper of the car they're driving. If they’re not, make sure you note down the name and address of the car owner. If a driver involved in the crash leaves the scene or refuses to give their details, make sure you call 101 straight away.

When you’re collecting details, never admit that the accident was your fault. Although it might feel unnatural, don’t apologise for the crash either. You’ll probably be in a state of shock and not in a position to understand what’s happened, and anything you say (even if it’s not true) could be used against you later when you make a claim. 

👀 Look at your surroundings

It’s important to get a clear idea of the situation and remember it. Take photos of the scene around you, including your car and all the other vehicles involved. If you can, quickly sketch the positioning of the vehicles. 

Then, describe the weather and other driving conditions, roughly what time the accident happened and what injuries were caused. This information will come in handy later as authorities often speak to eye-witnesses to better understand the accident.

📲 Contact your insurer

Once the situation is under control, contact your insurer and let them know about the accident (even if you’re not planning to make a claim). If you don’t report the accident to your insurance company, it could invalidate your cover. 

It’s your insurer’s job to help support you however they can. But to do that, they’ll need to get some information from you. It might seem like your insurer is asking a lot of questions. But the more information they have, the more likely they can assess your accident correctly. 

If another vehicle was involved in the accident, make sure you know the other driver’s:

  • name
  • address
  • contact details 
  • registration number
  • car insurance details 

You should also tell your insurance provider about any eye-witnesses who’d be happy to explain what they saw to help support your claim. 

👜 Prepare for the unexpected

It’s best to put together a small bag in case of emergencies that you can leave in your boot at all times. Fill it with the following items:

  • Coat
  • Blanket/s
  • Torch
  • High visibility jacket
  • Food and drink 
  • First aid kit for minor injuries

It might sound obvious, but make a note of who your insurer is, just in case you need to contact them in an emergency. You’d be surprised how many people don’t remember which company provides their insurance! 

With the Marshmallow app, you can keep all your insurance documents on you at all times and live chat with us directly. Not insured by us? Get a quote here.

We’re always here to support our customers, especially in difficult situations.