Car accidents, while relatively rare over the course of the average motorist’s life, are unfortunately a common occurrence on UK roads; a serious or fatal accident occurs every 22 minutes in the UK. Knowing what to do in the event of an accident is half the battle. This short guide gives you tips on what to do after suffering an accident, as well as potential preventative measures.
After an Accident – The Dos and Don’ts
Car accidents are extremely stressful situations, no matter the person involved – as such, it can be helpful to internalise the best practice for when a car accident occurs, in order for you to be able to act quickly and automatically. If you are involved in a road traffic incident, it is important first to remain calm. Keep your breathing regular, turn off your car’s engine and carry out safety checks on yourself and your passengers, to make sure no one is seriously injured.
If it is safe to do so, get yourself and your passengers out of the vehicle, and assess the situation. If your accident involved another vehicle, check on the driver and passengers to ensure they too are clear of life-threatening injuries. Call the police, and request an ambulance to check over the involved parties. If someone appears to have suffered a serious injury, try not to move them too much; jerked motions can cause further injury, especially in vulnerable areas like the neck, and exacerbate their condition. Instead, ensure they are comfortable and keep them in place until paramedics arrive.
With the safety of those involved assured, you should now take extensive pictures of the scene, including close-up images of damage to your vehicle and any other vehicles involved. These pictures can help you with your insurance claim later on. Do not remove debris from the road; this is unsafe, could interfere with other claims, and potentially interfere with police investigations. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, make sure everyone involved stays at the scene. Leaving the scene of a road traffic incident is an offence, and can be punishable by points on your license or even an unlimited fine.
Tackling Your Insurance
With the pressing concerns after an accident out of the way, your next step is to contact your insurance company to notify them of the accident, and to put in a claim. However, you might not be completely covered for your accident depending on the insurance coverage plan you initially chose. A comprehensive insurance plan covers everything, including theft, fire, accidental damage and injury to passengers or yourself, but third-party insurance only covers incidents that were not your fault – and whichever your plan, you might not be eligible to receive the full value of your vehicle in the event of a write-off.
This is where GAP, or Guaranteed Asset Protection, insurance comes in. GAP insurance ignores depreciation, and pays out the difference between your main insurance plan’s pay-out offer and the value of your car at the time of purchase. This kind of insurance can also be bought in the form of PCP GAP insurance, which can be particularly useful if your car is on contract hire or on finance, where any insurance payments would be soaked up by finance debt.
Adequate care and attention can significantly reduce the risks of suffering an accident on the roads, and prevention is the best form of cure. Understanding your journey before you set off can prepare you for potential diversions and otherwise unexpected turns, while keeping an emergency kit in the boot of your car can prepare you for flat tyres and inclement weather.