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Auto Insurance Information Center

May 2012

Your Accident Approach

More than 5.5 million car accidents are reported to the police in the U.S. every year*, from minor scrapes and bumps to more serious crashes.

Accident Approach

While we all hope it doesn’t happen to us, it's better to be prepared. Here's a simple accident action plan based on tips from the Consumer Protection Association of America. We advise you to cut it out and store it in your glove compartment for handy reference along with a notepad, a pen or pencil and a disposable camera.

  1. Get to the side of the road if possible. Signal the other driver or drivers involved to do the same. If you can't move your car, stay inside with your seatbelt on and your hazards flashing.

  2. Find out if anyone in your car is injured. If you or another person needs medical attention, call an ambulance.

  3. If you're dealing with more than a fender bender, call the police.

  4. If you can exit your car safely, exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Include names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, policy numbers, driver's license numbers and license plate numbers for the driver and owner of each car. If the driver is not the insurance holder, ask what their relationship is and get information for both people.

  5. Write down a description of each car (year, make, model, color), where the accident occurred and what damage has been done. If possible, get the other driver(s) to sign the paper as proof that you agree.

  6. Take photos of the accident scene and the damaged cars with your smartphone or camera.

  7. Don't tell anyone the accident was your fault, even if you think it was.

  8. File an accident report. Even if the police don't show up (in some places, they respond only to accidents involving injuries), go to the local police station and file a state vehicle accident report. Or download a report form from the Department of Motor Vehicles' Website, and then file it.

*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

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