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What to do if you have a car accident

Keep calm and follow these 10 steps

Car accident procedure

A bump on the road can happen to anyone. In the blink of an eye, you could accidentally crash, or someone could hit your car. While you try to piece together what’s just happened, you’ll probably also be worrying about what you need to do next.

Whether it’s your fault or someone has crashed into your car, find out what to do with our car accident checklist.

What to do after a car accident

1. Keep calm

You may feel a bit shaken, so calm your nerves before doing anything. Take a few deep breaths while you adjust to what’s just happened.

2. Stop the car

No matter how small you think the accident is, don’t drive away. It’s illegal to continue driving if other people are involved in your accident.

If you can, leave the car where it is. Switch the engine off and turn your hazard lights on. If you need to move the car to a nearby safe spot, you can. But it’s best to not move the car if possible.

3. Make sure everyone is safe

Now you’ve stopped the car, it's time to assess the situation. Firstly, check yourself and your passengers for any injuries and take note.

Secondly, step out the car and see if anyone else involved has been injured.

4. Report to the police 

If anyone needs medical help call the police. And, if necessary, an ambulance.

If no one is injured and you don’t need emergency services, call the police on 101 instead to report the car accident.

You must report to the police within 24 hours of the accident. Try to contact them as soon as you can after the accident.

5. Don’t jump to conclusions

Be careful not to take the blame for the accident when talking to anyone involved. Car accidents can be stressful. You might blurt out it was your fault when, in fact, it was someone else's.

Taking responsibility for the car accident could affect your claim, so try to limit your conversation with those involved. Just find out if they’re okay and get their details.

6. Get the other driver’s details

Make sure you exchange details with the other driver. You’ll need:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Registration number
  • Insurance company details
  • Type of car 

If the other driver refuses, or leaves without sharing their details, make sure you tell the police soon as possible. The police will give you a crime reference number.

Remember to share your details as well. If the car isn’t yours, you’ll need to give the owner’s name and address.  

7. Any witnesses?

It can be handy to get the details of witnesses, including passengers. Make a note of names, address and phone number in case you, the police, or your insurer needs more detail of the accident.

8. Take pictures

It might be worth taking a few photos of the scene on your phone to use as evidence. They can also help to jog your memory if you need to make a claim down the line.

9. Take notes

With the accident fresh in mind, our advice is to write down as much detail as possible. If you need to make a claim, this information could come in handy:

  • A drawing of the scene e.g. position of the cars, the layout and any obstructions or road signs
  • Your description of what happened, including street names and weather conditions, e.g. was it dark?
  • Time of the accident
  • The damage of the cars involved
  • Anything witnesses told you at the scene

10. Report the accident to your insurer 

As soon as you’re out of harm's way, and you’ve contacted the police to report the accident, you should call your insurer.

Even if you don’t plan on making a claim, you need to report it.

What happens if you don’t report a car accident?

If you don’t report a car accident to police, it could result in a fine, penalty points or even disqualification.

Under the Road Traffic Act (1988) you must stop if you’re involved in an accident that causes damage to cars or property, or injury to anyone, including animals. You’re obliged to give your car registration, name and address to anyone with reasonable grounds to be asking.

If you rush off from the scene, without sharing details, you can look guilty. Don’t get caught out. No matter how small the bump, report it.

How to make a claim

To make our claims process as consistent and easy as we can for you, we work with Auxillis. They're specialists when it comes to car insurance claims and customer service. So when you call to make a claim on your main policy, their experts will go through how it all works with you, and make sure you don't hit any bumps along the way.

If you're claiming on your main car insurance policy call our 24-hour helpline on 0344 600 9021.

We may record or monitor your call for security reasons, and to help us improve our customer service. Calls are charged at local rates from landlines and mobile.

Need car insurance?

Not a Sainsbury’s Bank Car Insurance customer yet? We offer Comprehensive and Third Party, Fire and Theft cover, plus a range of optional extras to choose from. 

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