Car accidents are something everyone wants to avoid. Sometimes, however, fender benders happen no matter how good our intentions are. These minor accidents can be overwhelming and scary, especially for new or first-time drivers.
The first few moments after an accident can be the most intense. You’re checking for injuries and damage, but the questions start flowing. Should you call someone? How long does an accident stay on your insurance?
Fortunately, a few practical steps after any fender-bender will give direction and a sense of support.
What Is A Fender Bender?
The term “fender bender” is used often, but it can be hard to define. Fender benders aren’t just any type of accident. In reality, fender benders are simply minor accidents.
Minor accidents occur often, but they don’t usually involve significant damage or bodily harm. Most people walk away from these accidents with little bumps and bruises. Vehicles typically take the brunt of the damage, and drivers are left to handle minor repairs.
Some repairs are covered by insurance and your car warranty. Car warranties are often minimal, but additional car warranties are available for purchase, providing additional coverage.
Practical Steps After A Fender Bender
Who do you call first? What about the police? Do they need to get involved? These are just a few questions that can run through someone’s head after an accident.
To help alleviate the stress and confusion, keep these six steps in mind and feel better prepared for a fender bender.
1 – Safety First
The priority in any accident scenario is safety. When fender benders occur, it’s important that you stop, pull over if you can, and remain with your vehicle. Leaving the scene of an accident, even a minor one, is considered a hit-and-run.
It’s also important that you pull your vehicle off the road or, at the very least, out of the flow of traffic. Staying in the middle of the road can cause more accidents and further injury.
Remember to move your vehicle only if it’s safe to operate. There are situations when moving a damaged vehicle is not possible or safe, but moving out of traffic is the safest option.
2 – Call The Police
Even in minor fender benders, it’s a good idea to call the local police. Notifying the police, even when there are no injuries, can help if insurance companies or courts need to get involved.
When in doubt, call the authorities and wait for them to arrive on the scene. They are trained to handle stressful and tense situations, so make the call.
3 – Exchange Insurance Information
The next step is to exchange information. You will need to collect the contact and insurance information of the other driver or drivers involved. This will make insurance claims more manageable and smoother.
Make sure you provide your information as well. This is not an admission of guilt or fault but will help the claim and repair process.
4 – Snap A Few Photos And A Video
Make sure to document any damage, even minor scratches or dings. These photos and videos will be necessary when making insurance claims or taking the car in for repairs.
Try to take these photos as soon as you are safely out of traffic. Document everything, including the scene of the accident, just in case.
5 – Call Your Insurance Company
The next step is to call your insurance company. You will need to give them some details, what happened, the status of your car, and whether you need towing assistance.
This will start the process and get your vehicle where it needs to go. A more detailed conversation will happen later, but the priority is taking care of you and your vehicle.
6 – Call An Attorney
The final step is optional, but it’s not a bad idea. Contacting a qualified attorney can help relieve some concerns and questions. These attorneys can help you navigate the days and weeks following a fender bender.
Fender Benders And Car Insurance
One of the biggest concerns following a fender bender is car insurance. Most people are worried about their monthly rates and long-term coverage.
It’s true, there can be long-term consequences to your car insurance rates. Minor accidents like fender benders have fewer consequences than major accidents. The good news is that no-fault accidents should not have any lasting impact on your driving record or car insurance rates.
You can expect a few consequences if you are at fault, even in a fender bender. Reported and at-fault accidents stay on a driver’s record for three to five years. Depending on several factors, there can be some increases in rates or coverage.
The best advice is to contact your insurance provider after an accident and be honest. Give the agent the necessary details and ask any of your questions. Remember, fender benders happen. See them as learning opportunities and get help from qualified professionals.
Laura Gunn researches and writes for the car insurance comparison site, MyCarInsurance123.com. She has had a few fender benders and enjoys helping others know what to do in these situations.