It’s the thing we all dread when we’re driving, but no matter how safe you are on the roads, you’re always at risk of an accident happening.
Here’s what happens when you crash and some more details about what you need to do.
1. You stop you car
The first thing you need to do after any crash is stop your car – even if you think that the damage is small. The Road Traffic Act 1988 actually makes it illegal to fail to stop after a collision. Find a safe place to pull over, turn off your engine and put your hazard lights on so that you can be clearly seen by other drivers.
2. You decide if you need to call an ambulance or the police
After you’ve safely stopped the car, get out and assess what’s happened. If there are other people in the car with you, get them to wait in a safe place away from traffic, like behind a barrier or on a verge.
If a person is injured, call the ambulance service on 999.
You don’t need to call the police to attend every collision, but sometimes you will have to. The main reasons you’d need them at the scene are:
- If someone is hurt
- If other drivers leave the scene without giving you their details
- If your car or another one is blocking the road
- If you think that the accident was caused deliberately by the other driver (ie. that you’re the victim of a crash scam)
Regardless of whether or not you need them at the scene, you will need to inform the police of the fact that you’ve been in an accident within 24 hours of it happening. If you don’t, you risk getting a fine, points on your license or even a driving ban.
Whatever the situation, the most important thing is to keep calm and not to panic.
3. You exchange details with the other driver
It sounds slightly odd, but be careful to not apologise unless you’re 100% sure that the accident is your fault. This helps to reduce the risk of you getting sued for something that isn’t your fault – the other driver could argue that you admitted you were responsible for the crash by apologising.
According to the law, if the accident has caused damage or injured someone you’ll need to exchange names and addresses with every driver present. Find out if they are the registered owner of the car. If they aren’t, find out who is and get those details too. You’ll also need to take the details of any passengers, and anyone who saw the accident happen.
Details to take:
- The names, addresses and contact details of drivers, passengers and witnesses
- The make, model and colour of the cars involved
- The number plates of the vehicles involved
- The time, date and location of the crash
- What the driving conditions were like: the lighting, road quality and weather etc
- The type of damage that was caused to the cars involved
- Photos of the scene, positions of the car and any damage
4. You contact your insurer
You need to contact your insurer as soon as possible after the accident, giving them all of the details that you’ve collected. Some car leasing insurance policies have time limits that you’ll have to stick to if you want to claim.
In general, claiming on your policy isn’t compulsory. If the accident is very small and the damage minimal, some people might choose not to claim to keep their no claims bonus intact. However, with car leasing, you aren't the legal owner of the vehicle so the decision might not be up to you.
If you do decide to claim, your insurer will ask for your policy number, registration and postcode and some of the details that you’ve collected. They’ll also tell you about the next steps for claiming.