What to do when your car’s been dinged

By on May 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Posted in: Claims

By guest blogger Katie R., claims adjuster, Tucson

As a GEICO claims adjuster, I help our customers after they’ve had an accident. Many tell me that they were nervous or scared at the scene of the accident and didn’t think to get all the information our claim service representative wanted. My response to this may surprise you, but I always answer them the same way: “Good!” As your adjuster, the last thing I want is for you to be an expert at having a car accident! Even so, it’s good to know what types of information you’ll need after an accident, and what you should expect during the claim process.

  • After an accident occurs, take stock of yourself and your surroundings. It’s a good idea to keep a pen and paper in your car at all times just for situations like this (it’s also helpful if you are like me and always lose your grocery list!). If you can, write down what street or intersection you are at, and a description of the other vehicle or vehicles involved before exiting your car. Once it’s safe to get out, get the specifics from the other driver(s). You’ll need their names, their addresses and phone numbers, their insurance company name and policy number, and the year, make and model of their vehicle. You might also want to ask if the driver owns the vehicle. If they don’t, get the name of the owner as well. Make sure you ask for a cell phone or alternate phone number. Generally, these are the most important pieces of information to gather.
  • Immediately call the police. Even if you are on private property it may be useful to at least have a record of the date and time that you called to report the accident. Wait for the police to arrive, even if you are late for work. Normally, your employer will understand, and a police report can be invaluable if anything goes wrong later. While you are waiting, it’s a good time to look around for witnesses. The best witness is someone who does not know you or the other driver and who had a clear view of the accident. Don’t be afraid to approach people and ask them for their name and phone number. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help after an accident.
  • Call your insurance company right away. The faster the claim is reported, the faster the damage can be taken care of. Depending on the nature of your accident, your claim could be settled in as little as a few days. Don’t dread calling in, even if the accident was your fault. Your GEICO claim adjuster has heard it all, and you’re not likely to surprise them. Besides, there is a reason they are called “accidents” rather than “on purposes!” You should expect to be told who is responsible for the accident, what coverage you have, how it applies to this accident and what your next steps are.  If you are ever confused, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t forget; we don’t want you to be an expert at car accidents.

Having an accident can be very stressful and your insurer should do everything possible to make the process as pain-free as can be. Remember to ask questions if you are confused and never be afraid to ask what your rights and obligations are. As your adjuster I am here to protect your interest to the best of my ability within the policy contract. Now that you know what information you need, the rest is up to adjusters like me. The process can be confusing, but thankfully we’re professionals when it comes to car accidents – so you don’t have to be.