Insurance and Finance

Would you Know What to do if you had a Car Accident?

By Paula Felps 1.17.13

Like it or not, there comes a time when each of us will have to use our auto insurance. Whether it’s a fender-bender in the parking lot or something more substantial, knowing what to do can make a big difference in the outcome.

“They’re called accidents for a reason,” says Paul Pustka, agency manager at Texas Farm Bureau Insurance in Shelby County. “Nobody woke up this morning and thought they would go hit somebody. So just stay calm.”

If an accident happens, Pustka says there are three steps to follow – in order.

  1. “Make sure you’re not hurt or bleeding.” Check on passengers to ensure that there aren’t any injuries.
  2. Call the police. Even for small accidents, Pustka advises calling the police – and doing so before getting out of the car. “Just let them know you’ve been in an accident, and tell them where you are. In the absence of a police report, it’s your word against theirs, so it’s important to get that documentation.” On private property, police can write an incident report that documents what happened. If the police are unavailable to come to the scene of a minor accident, Pustka recommends going to the police station as soon as possible and filling out an incident report, which helps with documentation.
  3. Call your insurance agent. “If you can’t reach your agent, get the other person’s name and address, phone number, name of insurance company, policy number, and the name of their workplace if possible.”

He recommends using your smart phone to take a picture of the accident at the scene as evidence of the damage. Try to get a photo before either car is moved, he recommends.

For iPhone and iPad users, Texas Farm Bureau Insurance has a free app that allows users to record and save photos of the damage with a camera and then file the claim using an online form.