It’s the situation nobody wants to find themselves in, but accidents inevitably do happen, and knowing what to do if you’re ever involved in one will help you stay calm. Today we’re going to look at what you need to do to ensure that you’ll stay on the right side of the law, and how to make any insurance claims more straightforward.
Your legal obligations
As a driver, failing to stop and exchange details if you’ve had an accident is an offence. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was – you must still exchange details or report to the Police within the given time frame. Specifically, you’re legally obliged to stop at the scene for a reasonable amount of time if you’ve been directly involved in an accident, or if your car was a contributing factor, and the accident results in:
a) injury to either another person,
b) damage to somebody else’s vehicle or property (this includes road signs, street lamps and other roadside paraphernalia), and/or
c) injury or death of an animal (classed in this context as a horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog) – except when the animal in question was within your vehicle or in a trailer towed by you.
The Highway Code also states that if you are involved in an accident which causes damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property, you Must
- Give your own and the vehicle owner’s name and address, and the registration number of the vehicle, to anyone having reasonable grounds for requiring them
- If you do not give your name and address at the time of the accident, report the accident to the Police as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any case within 24 hours.
At the scene
Immediately after the accident, you and anyone else involved may be in a state of shock. It’s important to act quickly and if anyone is injured call the emergency services if required. Make sure you’re safe from on-coming traffic, moving behind the crash barriers by the side of the road if there are any. Where possible and safe to do so leave your car exactly where it is and if you have a camera to hand if may be helpful to take photographs of all vehicles involved and the location. Don’t take the blame for the accident, as you may not be fully aware of the circumstances and it may harm your case later on.
Making an insurance claim
To help with your insurance claim, it’s useful to gather as much information at the scene of the accident as possible, including taking photographs and jotting down an in-depth description of what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind. Note down details such as the time and location of the accident, damage and injuries caused to vehicles and people, traffic and weather conditions, particulars of the vehicles involved (models, colours, makes, registration numbers, number of passengers and what the vehicle was doing when the accident occurred). Also, take down the contact details of any witnesses, as well as anyone else involved in the accident. It’s also helpful to get the name of their insurer(s) and policy number(s).
Your insurance cover may be rendered invalid if you don’t report the accident to your insurer within a reasonable timeframe, even if you don’t intend to make a claim. So, do call your branch to discuss the way forward. We advise adding your A-Plan branch telephone number and out of hours claims helpline into your phone contacts so that you’ll have them readily available and be able to contact us as quickly as possible.
And, above all, we’re here to help and guide you through the process every step of the way.