What to do if you have an accident

We know it can be scary and stressful if you have a car accident. So we've put together a few pointers to help you make sure everyone is ok, and that you have everything you need if you want to make a claim.

1. Don't drive away

Stop if any other people were involved in the accident or if there's any damage to cars or other property. It's illegal not to.

If you hit an animal, you are obliged by law to stop at the scene and report it to the police. The legal definition of 'animal' isn't what you might think though; it only covers horses, cattle, asses, mules, sheep, pigs, goats and dogs. It's still a good idea to stop if you hit other animals though, especially cats. If the cat has survived and can be moved, take it to a vet and inform them that you are not the owner.

2. Make sure everyone is safe

Stop the car in a safe place if you can, and make sure you and your passengers are out of harm's way.

3. Call 999

Call the emergency services if anyone involved needs medical help, or if the accident has made it dangerous for you or others nearby.

4. Don't take the blame

If another driver was involved in the accident, don't admit any responsibility or offer to pay anything. Even if you felt like you were at fault, you may not have been.

And let your insurer know if they claimed responsibility for what happened.

5. Get the other driver's details

You'll need their:

  • name
  • address
  • phone number
  • vehicle registration number
  • insurance company details and policy numbers.

Remember to give them your details as well.

If they leave without giving you their details, call the police and write down any crime reference number they give you.

6. Get the details of any witnesses

If any other people saw the accident, including passengers, ask them for their:

  • name
  • address
  • phone number.

7. Take pictures if you can

If it's safe, take photos of:

  • the position of all the vehicles involved in the accident
  • any damage to the cars
  • any damage to anything else.

You don't have to do this, but it will be really useful if you make a claim.

8. Draw a diagram of the scene

Draw it while you're at the scene if you can – and give as much detail as possible, like:

  • the layout of where the accident happened, including roads and the road names
  • the position of the cars before and after the accident
  • any speeds and distances
  • where any witnesses were standing when it happened
  • any road signs
  • any obstructions.

You don't have to do this, but it will be really useful if you make a claim.

9. Write down any other details

Make a note of as many details about the accident and where it happened as you can. For example:

  • your description of what happened
  • anything any witnesses told you at the scene
  • the time
  • how many passengers were in your car and in any other cars involved
  • the weather and the driving conditions – was it dark, raining or icy?
  • whether any of the cars involved in the accident are driveable.

You don't have to do this, but it will be really useful if you make a claim.

10. Report the accident your insurer

Call your insurer as soon as you can to tell them about the accident – even if you don't want to make a claim.

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