Driving Essentials – What to do After an Accident

No matter how big or small, the first thing to remember after being involved in an accident is not to panic. You might be feeling shaken up, but try to keep a level head, and record as much information as you can, as this will help you later.

Girl on the phone after a car accident

What information do I need to get?

Even if you think the damage is minor, you should always exchange details with any other parties involved. Although it’s unlikely, there could be additional damage that you can’t see or even an injury that doesn’t manifest itself for a day or two.At minimum, you will need to get some basic information, including:

  • The number plate for any other vehicles involved, so that the owner can be traced
  • Names of anyone involved
  • Addresses of anyone involved

Under the Road Traffic Act (1988), you are also required to give out your name and address to “anyone with reasonable grounds to be asking for those details”.

If you are driving somebody else’s vehicle, you should also give:

  • Name of the owner
  • Address of the owner

Exchanging additional information can be useful and help speed up the claims process. You are not required by law, but it might be useful to get the following information:

  • Phone numbers of anyone involved
  • Relevant insurance details
  • Photographs of the scene if you can get consent from the other party

Do I need witnesses?

You don’t have to provide a witness, however, it is a good idea to take down details of anybody who saw what happened in case the other driver gives an alternate version of events.  Being involved in even a minor accident can leave you feeling shaken, so having somebody who was not involved be able to explain what they saw can help if you have difficulty recalling.

Do I need to tell the police?

If you were unable to exchange details with whoever else was involved in the collision, you have to notify the police within 24 hours of it occurring. Although you should always try and exchange details at the scene, there are occasions where this is not possible, for example you were unable to stop safely, the other driver was confrontational, or it was property, such as a parked car or a fence, which was damaged. This will allow the police to match it to your report when the other person gets in touch.

The police should also be notified of any collisions involving personal injury, whether this be to yourself or your passengers, somebody in another vehicle, or a pedestrian. Injury collisions should be reported to the police in person, at a police station, if the police did not attend the scene.

Do I have to tell my insurer?

When the damage is only minor, you might choose not to make a claim on your insurance, but you should still always make sure you notify your insurer of any accident or collision. By making sure your insurance company are aware of the incident, you are protecting yourself, as the other party could try and initiate a claim, even if they have said they would not. Many insurers require you to notify them of any accidents whether you intend to make a claim or not.

Making sure you know all about your insurance policy and excesses will help overcome some of the worry that can follow an accident. Whether you’ve had an accident or not, it’s worth taking the time to read through your insurance policy in more detail. You can read all about our policies and cover today, including our new driver policy.

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