Making a car insurance claim following an accident

Being in a car accident can be stressful, not knowing what to do could make that situation even more traumatic! Be clued up on what to do if you are involved in a car accident and how to make a claim by reading our guide on ‘Making a car insurance claim following an accident’.

What do I do immediately after a car accident?

STOP, turn off the engine and turn on your hazard lights

No matter how small the accident, you must by law, STOP the car as soon as it is safe to do so. Turn your engine off and your hazard lights on.  If you have not had the chance to pull over somewhere safe, you must check your exit points immediately. If you can safely get out of the car, and get you and your passengers safely away from danger, do so. If your car is blocking the road or if it’s position could be potentially dangerous to other motorist you will need to call the police immediately.

Is anybody hurt? Call the emergency services

If anyone is hurt, you should call an ambulance immediately.  As stated above, if the road is blocked you will need to call the police. Additionally, if you suspect that the other driver is ‘under the influence’ of either drink or drugs, you must notify the policy immediately. If you foresee immediate danger such as a spillage of fuel or if someone appears stuck in their vehicle, ring the fire service straightaway. 

If the accident was only a minor one and there was no injuries, you must still notify the police within 24 hours- do not dial 999 for this, you can dial 101.

Exchange details

You are legally required to leave your contact details when you are involved in a car accident. Additionally, if you hit someone’s parked car or property but they are not present, you are also obliged to leave your details. It is against the law to leave the scene of a crime.

You will need to exchange the following details:

  • Full name, address and telephone number
  • Car registration number
  • Car insurance details
  • The number of and names of any passengers
  • The contact details of any  witnesses

If your car has been hit and the driver attempts to drive off; try and get a view of their registration number. Although we don’t want to be distrustful, you can never be sure if the other party is insured or not so this is always the first thing you should look out for when you are involved in an accident. 

Take photos and jot down notes

The more information you have, the better when it comes to making a car insurance claim. As well as exchanging details, other important details you should note down include:

  • The date and time of the accident
  • A note of the vehicles make, model and colour
  • A note  or photos of the visible damage to the ‘other’ vehicle as well as your own
  • A sketch or photo of the positions of the cars involved including impact points
  • A note of any injuries sustained by pedestrians, drivers and passengers
  • What are the weather conditions like?

If you can, take photos of the scene and any damage immediately after the accident. This will help support your car insurance claim.

What will my car insurer need to know?

You do not need to call your car insurer from the scene of the accident, however, it is advised that you contact them to raise your claim within 24 hours of the accident itself. This is something that you will need to check with your insurer as many providers set time restraints of the amount of time you have to raise a claim following a car accident.

Before you call your insurer to report a claim, it is wise that you are prepared for the conversation and the questions that you may be asked by ensuring that you have your notes to hand. Additionally, you will need your policy number, security details and full name in order to raise the claim.

You will need to provide the insurer with as much detail as possible in order for them to build a picture of the accident. If you have photos/ sketches you may be asked to email/send these as further proof. 

You will be required to call your car insurer and provide them with the details of the accident, even if you do not wish to make a claim.

What happens when I make a car insurance claim?

When you call your car insurer to report the car accident, they will ask you if you wish to make a claim on your car insurance policy or not.  If you do choose to make a claim on your car insurance policy, you will be sent, either by email or post, a claims form which you will be given a certain period of time to complete and return. Alternatively, your car insurer may have an app or online portal for you to log this information. You will need to check your insurer’s claims process to confirm this.

Once you have provided your insurer with details of your accident and they have confirmed that they have received everything they require, you can expect to wait a while before you hear back from your insurer as they will then need to contact the other party’s insurer to confirm that the information provided is correct.

If your car was damaged, your insurer will send out or request that you go to a specific garage in order for your car to be assessed and an estimate of the cost to repair be provided to your insurer if you have comprehensive cover or the accident wasn’t your fault. Do not get your car repaired before this stage has taken place or your insurer could refuse to pay out.

If the cost of the proposed repairs come to more than the worth of your car, your car will be officially written off by your insurance company. In this instance your insurer will pay out the sum equal to the current market value of your car, before it was damaged. The cost you will be given for this is dependent upon such elements as the cars age and the depreciation of the car.

Do I have to make a car insurance claim?

No, if it would cost less to repair your car than it would to go through your insurer and pay the excess associated with your policy, it is advisable to not claim on your insurance. Also, making a claim can have a negative effect on your policy premiums in the future, therefore, if you have only incurred a scratched alloy; it might not be worth making a claim on your insurance policy.

Even if you decide not to make a claim, you still need to report the accident to your insurer. If you don’t, you could have your cover cancelled.

What is an excess and will I have to pay one to claim?

You will have agreed a set excess when you took out your car insurance policy. An excess is a contribution you are required to pay towards a claim you make on your car insurance policy. An insurer may have many types of excesses that can apply in different situations so it is worth reviewing your car insurance policy documents before you make a claim to be sure as to how much you will be required to pay.

We hope that you have found this guide informative and educational. It is always worth reviewing your car insurer’s claims policy when you take out insurance with them for their full terms and requirements.