No one looks forward to being in a minor car accident, but it will, unfortunately, happen to most of us at some point in our lives. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, about 205 auto accidents occurred daily in the state in 2015.
Though minor accidents are given the harmless-sounding moniker “fender benders,” they can be jarring for those involved and cause expensive vehicle damage. Even a minor collision has the potential to cause serious injury and be very stressful for those involved.
However, by taking these steps immediately following the accident, you can keep stress levels to a minimum and give yourself the best chance of filing a successful insurance claim and fully repairing your vehicle.
The first thing you should do is confirm you and your passengers have not been seriously injured. When you call 911, they will ask about injuries so they know which type of emergency services to dispatch, if any. It is important to provide the operator with as much information as possible.
Move to Safety
After confirming the safety of everyone in your car and the other vehicle involved in the accident, turn on your hazard lights, move your car to a safe location and shut off your engine. If your car is unsafe or unable to drive, turn off your engine and move off the road when the coast is clear.
Even if no one is hurt and the accident appears to be minor, notifying the proper authorities is still a crucial step. The responding officer will fill out a police report, which you will need to file an insurance claim. Your claim adjuster uses the police report to determine fault and the claim amount.
Report the Accident (If Necessary)
In some cases, the dispatcher may not deem the situation an emergency and an officer will not respond to the scene. When this happens, you can make a report later at the police station. In Minnesota, you must report the accident within 10 days if there was injury, death or more than $1,000 worth of damage.
Document the Accident
It is recommended you document the accident by taking photos of all vehicles and any injuries you sustained. Gather names and contact information from witnesses and take note of the time of day, weather conditions, location and other pertinent details. This information can help you during the claims process if the police report was not sufficient.
Exchanging information can be awkward, given the situation and stress involved, but it is a necessary step. Start by asking if the other driver is okay and avoid discussing fault, even if you believe it is clear who or what caused the collision. Admitting fault too early can come back to haunt you.
Politely ask to exchange the following information:
- Full name and contact information
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance company and policy number
- License plate number
- Make, model and color of vehicle
Notify Your Insurance Provider
It is never too early to notify your insurance provider. Waiting too long could cause you to forget crucial details or hamper your ability to get the most out of your coverage. You may even want to contact your provider while you are on the scene so they can tell you which types of documentation will be helpful during the claims process.
The Claims Process
The claims process is not as simple as making a claim and receiving a check in the mail. It varies greatly depending on the details of the accident and both drivers’ insurance policies. It typically involves submitting a “proof of claim” form, a copy of the police report and any other necessary documentation to a claims adjuster who determines how much of the repair costs the insurance company is willing to cover.
You will also need to complete a vehicle inspection and damage estimate. These can be performed by an approved auto repair shop or trained inspector sent by the insurance company.
Choose an Auto Body Shop
After these details are finalized, your insurance company may recommend taking your car to a certain body shop, but you can bring it to the shop of your choosing. Your insurance provider will either reimburse repair the costs or pay the shop directly, depending on your insurance company’s procedures and your policy.
Auto Body and Collision Repairs in the Twin Cities
From the initial stress on the scene to the hassle of insurance claims later, being involved in a fender bender is always an unwelcome complication in your life. One of the few things that can make the process a little easier is choosing a trusted, customer-centric repair shop to fix your vehicle’s damage.
At Collision Center, we take pride in making auto body damage disappear after an accident. Our commitment to unparalleled customer satisfaction means we will do our best to exceed your expectations. For more information, call (763) 541-9727 or contact us online today!