Auto Insurance Claims: 3 things to do at a Fender Bender

How to Handle a Fender Bender

Three Parts:

Most car collisions are non-fatal, involving cosmetic or mechanical damage to one or many cars.Although it’s easy to be frightened and flustered after an accident, remember that you are involved in a legal process. Complete the necessary steps, whether or not you are at fault, in order to ensure a good outcome.


Acting Immediately Following an Accident

  1. Pull over to the side of the road.Removing yourself from the flow of traffic will reduce the risk of accident and a pile-up. Make sure you have a safe place where you and the other driver can get out of the car.
  2. Pay attention to where the other car is pulling over.If the other car does not pull over, try to view and remember their license plate once you are stopped on the side of the road. Write the license plate number down as soon as you can.
  3. Turn on your hazard lights.
  4. Call the Emergency Services.If there is any worry that harm may have been caused, the police will serve as a neutral third-party and document the scene of the accident. If the other person drove off, you can tell them the license number when they arrive.
    • There are cases when the fender bender is so minor that the parties skip this step and simply exchange car insurance information. Consider this only if both sides agree to it and there doesn’t seem to be any risk of injury.

Communicating With Another Driver

  1. Look for eyewitnesses.Some good Samaritans and pedestrians will pull over to see if everyone is ok after an accident. You will want to ask them to stay in order to give a statement to the police.
  2. Step out of the car, away from traffic.Take a few deep breaths and try to avoid anger in your next interactions. Staying calm will reduce the likelihood of other altercations.
  3. Introduce yourself to the driver.Don’t admit fault if you are unsure about the accident situations.
  4. Tell the driver that you would like to exchange insurance information.Grab your insurance information from your car or wallet. Also, grab a cell phone or pen and paper that you can use to write down the other driver’s insurance information.
    • If the driver is uninsured, ask for their name, driver’s license number, license plate number, address and contact number. They will face legal consequences and you can report this information to the police.
    • Do not accept any arrangement whereby money exchanges hands without notifying insurance companies, even if you are not at fault.
  5. Use your cell phone to take photos of both cars and skid marks.You can submit these photos to your insurance company. The police are likely to take their own photos if they have been called.
    • Don’t put yourself in the way of traffic to take the photos.

Communicating With an Insurance Company

  1. Wait until the police have released you.Arrange to pick up a copy of the police report. Make a note of the police officer’s name, precinct and badge number so that you can follow up.
  2. Check with the other driver before driving away.Don’t leave abruptly, or it may appear you are trying to run away from the situation.
  3. Call your insurance company.Look on your insurance card for an “in case of accident/claim” number. You may want to program this number into your phone for easy access.
    • Calling your insurance company to report an accident will protect your property, but it will also give your insurance company a chance to prepare to argue on your behalf.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    What if my driver license is expired?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You should get it renewed as soon as possible. Be prepared for a fine because, technically, you were driving with an "invalid license".
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  • Approximately 15 percent of drivers are uninsured. Writing down the other car’s license plate, model number and name of driver will help you to fight against the costs of uninsured motorists.

Things You'll Need

  • Cell phone
  • Police report
  • Car insurance card/information
  • Paper
  • Camera/camera phone

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Sources and Citations

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