An accident! What should I do?
Whether you’re driving on a major road like 217 or pulling through the parking lot at Fred Meyer, being in an accident can be unnerving and disorienting. You’ll make it through!
At the Scene of the Accident
- Be Safe: do what you need to do to make sure you and your passengers are safe from other traffic. Aid the injured and call 9-1-1 if needed.
- Notify the police if there is any injury, if damage to any vehicle appears to be over $2,500, or if any vehicle is towed from the scene (use the non-emergency number if you’re not in an emergency situation.).
- Exchange information with the other driver. Get their name, address, phone, number, their insurance policy carrier and policy#, and license plate. (Not your drivers license #).
- Gather any witness contact information, even if you think it’s a very simple accident, get the witness names and numbers. A 3rd party witness account can help establish what happened should driver accounts disagree.
- Safely take a few photos of the damage on both cars and the general scene if you can.
After the Accident
- If an Accident Report (not the same as notifying the police) is required, you have 72 hours here in Oregon to file the report with the DMV.
- Go to that link for more details but, in general if there were injuries or are likely over $2,500 of damages, file the report.
- File a claim with the insurance company, and if you’re unsure who to call just contact your insurance agent.
Tips for how to go through an auto insurance claim:
Filing a car insurance claim can involve a lot of details and people. Even a simple claim like a side-view mirror can involve both drivers, the insurance company claim reps, the repair shop or shops, and an adjuster.
Here are a few tips for going through a claim.
- If you’ve sustained injuries or even discomfort, seek medical attention and tell it to the insurer. This is important for your own recovery and for documenting how the injury may be linked with the accident. It is not unusual for it to take a few days to fully feel the injuries you’ve sustained.
- If you have questions, ask. Whether you’re talking to the adjuster, the repair shop, or the claim representative, they should be able to help you understand the process and answer your questions. If you sense that the person you’re speaking with is unsure or unclear, request to speak with a supervisor. If you want to run your thoughts by someone, call your agent.
- Check a few repair shops with good reputations. Although there are some benefits to working within your insurer’s preferred repair shops, here in Oregon you can take your car to any repair facility you want. Ask them how long it will take to get the repairs completed as some places here in the Portland Metro area may take months to repair your car depending on their own backlog.
- Know that it’s not unusual for claims to be adjusted as they move through the process and gather a more complete picture of the loss.
- Important questions:
- What is the next step? Realize that it is a process, and the claim representatives should give you a clear sense of the next step.
- Is my car safe to drive? The repair facility should be able to tell you.
- Do I have rental reimbursement coverage? If you need a replacement rental vehicle.
- How long? Ask each person you deal with how long they estimate it’ll take to hear from them or to get the repairs done. Between supply chain issues and inflation and labor shortages at repair shops, don’t be surprised if a repair ends up taking significantly longer.
- Don’t sign off on the claim until damages are truly settled. Insurance companies will ask you to sign a release confirming that you’re content with the work they’ve done on your behalf. This is a regular part of the process (kind of like the end of a kitchen remodel or car repair). If you have outstanding concerns that have not been addressed (injury concerns, additional repairs needed, etc.), communicate those to the company.