The last thing you want to think about now is anything going wrong – but it’s always best to be prepared. Here’s our stepby-step guide to what to do if you’re involved in an accident.
What to do immediately after the accident
Stop, and turn on your hazard lights – you can be prosecuted if you leave the accident scene without stopping. Make sure everyone is safe. Do not move anybody who is injured, unless it is dangerous to leave them where they are. Call the police immediately if anyone is seriously injured or you suspect the other driver is under the influence of alcohol (or guilty of another criminal offence).
If the vehicle is drivable …
If the accident was minor, such as a bumper-bashing incident, and the vehicle is drivable:
- Take photos of the accident scene, including pictures of the other vehicles and their registration numbers (if possible)
- Then move the vehicle out of the traffic, but only if nobody was injured and you’re sure the other driver is sober
If the vehicle is not drivable, or there are injured people inside, leave it where it is and:
- Keep the hazard lights on
- Display your triangle to warn other traffic
- Take photos of the accident scene, including of the other vehicle(s) and their registration number(s), if possible
- Call your roadside-assistance provider
Get all the details
Make sure you obtain and record particulars of the accident and other parties involved in the accident. These include:
- Where and when the accident happened
- Names and details of the driver(s) of the other vehicle(s)
- Details of the vehicles involved
Do not enter into any discussions about payment or responsibility for the accident, whatever the circumstances.
Report it … File an accident report at your nearest police station within the first working day after the accident, or within 24 hours if anyone was injured.
You must report the accident, even if the other party said they would report it.
Note that even if there are no injuries or major damage to vehicles, any incident that involves public property (such as a traffic sign) must be reported to the police.
The claims process:
1. Notify your broker of the accident as soon as possible (you usually have a limited time to do this).
2. Your broker will evaluate and process your claim, using the information you gathered and provided:
- If the other driver is insured and caused the incident, you have the option to lodge a claim with your insurer or with the other driver’s insurer
- Even if you decide to claim against the other driver’s insurance, you must still notify your broker of the accident
- If you’re insured against the risk and the other driver is found to be the more negligent party, your broker will try to recover damages from them (including the excess – the uninsured portion of a claim payable by a policyholder, regardless of who caused the accident). This is usually more successful if the other party is insured.
3. Once your claim has been registered with your broker, you will be kept up to date with its progress.
Bear in mind …
- If you have a breakdown, run out of petrol or need a tyre change, you need to call your accident-assistance service. Your insurer will only pay the full towing cost if you use their authorised provider. If you’re unsure, call your broker first to check.
- You must file an accident report with the police within 24 hours. This is important, as you will need a reference number from the police to lodge your insurance claim.