What to Do After a Minor Collision
Almost every motorist will have a minor accident at one time or another. Do you know what to do if it happens to you?
Insurers love their statistics, and according to those released by the car insurance industry, the average driver will file an insurance claim for an accident every 18 years. Given the thousands of miles most of us drive every year, that might not sound too bad, but of course, that’s only the accidents in which a claim is filed.
It doesn’t include incidents in which only minor car body repair is needed – you know, those little supermarket car park scuffs, the embarrassing time you drove into your own gatepost or other incidents that are too minor to warrant filing a claim with the insurers and in which you deal with the costs out of your own pocket.
Yet however minor you believe the accident to be, there are some steps you should always take, to ensure your car and family are safe and you are on the right side of the law.
It might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many people think an accident is nothing and just keep rolling on. For example, supposed you a flipped door mirrors with an oncoming vehicle along a narrow piece of road. No big deal, right? Probably, but failing to stop after an accident is an offence under the Road Traffic Act, so pull in to a safe spot, put on your hazard lights, switch off your engine and go speak to the other driver.
If it really is a minor knock, that’s one thing, but if the damage is more significant than you thought, vehicles are stuck blocking the road or there the slightest concern that someone is injured, call 101 or 999 right away and explain what has happened. They will send police to help keep everyone safe and clear up the mess.
Regardless of seriousness or fault, you are required under the Road Traffic Act to give your details to anyone else involved. That even applies when there is nobody else at the scene, for example if you bump into someone’s car while it is parked. Under these circumstances, leave your details on a note under the windscreen wiper. You also need to obtain the details of the other parties, as well as those of any witnesses who are around.
Even if you do not intend to make a claim, you must inform your insurers about the accident, marking the notification “for information only.” This is a condition of your motor insurance, and failure to disclose an accident could give insurers the right to deny you cover in future.
Sorry seems to be the hardest word
Avoid admitting liability at the scene of an accident, as this could come back to haunt you later. Your first priority should always be to check everyone involved is OK and uninjured. That done, try to keep the tone friendly but formal – all you and the other parties need to discuss is the business of exchanging details, then you can all get back on your way.