It’s not a nice thought, but car accidents happen and it’s important to know what to do if you’re caught up in one.
If you take the right steps immediately after a car accident, you can stop a bad situation from getting worse and help to make sure your car insurance claim is paid out without a hitch.
However minor you think a car accident is, you must stop. In fact, failing to do so is an offence under the Road Traffic Act.
You should make sure your car’s engine is switched off and then turn your hazard lights on to alert other road users to your presence.
Take a look around. If anyone has been injured in the car accident you should call the police on 999 (and an ambulance too if necessary) as soon as possible. If you don't need an emergency response, then you should call the police on 101 instead.
The police should also be called if the car accident is blocking the road or if you feel there was foul play involved – if you suspect you’re a victim of a ‘crash for cash’ scam, for example, where a driver deliberately causes an accident to make a fraudulent insurance claim.
A dash cam can help you avoid falling victim to crash for cash scams. However, be sure to pick the right one, or you may be left with low-quality footage that won't help prove what happened. Visit our to find out the models we recommend.
When you're involved in a car accident you’re obliged to give your name and address to anyone else involved.
You should stop and give your details if you crash into something on or near the road even if there aren't any other people involved. If you hit a parked car, for example, you should leave your details on the windscreen.
Avoid saying sorry or accepting blame for the accident until you know precisely what happened as it could count against you later on.
Car accidents should also be reported to the police within 24 hours. Failure to do so could result in a fine, penalty points or even disqualification.
If possible, you should collect names, addresses and contact details from any drivers, passengers and witnesses.
Ask the other drivers involved for their car insurance details and try to establish whether they are the registered keeper of their vehicle. If they aren’t, find out who is and make a note of their name and address.
Call 999 straightaway if someone leaves the scene of the car accident without giving their details.
Here are some other important details you should try to collect at the scene of the car accident:
You may find it useful to take photos of the car accident for use as evidence. Some drivers carry disposable cameras for this purpose, but most modern mobile phones will take good enough shots to help you remember important details.
Once the dust has settled, you will need to inform your insurer of the accident and, if your car is sufficiently damaged, begin the process of making a claim.
Make sure you tell your insurer about the car accident as soon as you can. Failure to do so within the time period set out in your policy may invalidate your cover, leaving you with a big bill to pay.
How long long you have to to file an insurance claim after a car accident varies. Make sure you check the wording of your car insurance policy carefully as these time periods can be anything from two days to two weeks after the accident.
You should always inform your car insurance company about an accident, even if you don't want to make a claim.
If the car accident involved another vehicle you will need to provide your insurance company with details of the other driver. Try to provide:
You will also need to give your insurance company as much information about the accident as possible. Use sketches to help explain what happened and include any pictures you took at the scene of the accident.
Also provide the contact details of any witnesses who have agreed to support your claim.
If you want to continue with your claim, your insurance company will let you know what you need to do.
If other people were involved in the accident, your insurance company will contact their insurance companies and resolve the claims.