You're on the road when all of a sudden, you get into a car accident. You’re disoriented and your car is a total wreck. What do you do?
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, accidents happen all the time. Knowing what to do after a car wreck can be hard to think about in the moment, but you will be well prepared for it by the end of this article. We’re going to look at five steps you can take to handle an accident while you're on the road.
Accidents that happen while you’re traveling are the hardest because you can be miles away from any city or town. You can feel totally stuck and unsure of what to do.
The best and first thing to do is to stay calm.
#1 – Stay calm, check for injuries, and move your car to a safe spot
This is critical, especially if you have injuries. It’s very easy to panic when stressful situations arise, but it’s so vital to your safety and the safety of others that you remain calm.
Check yourself to make sure you’re okay, and then carefully exit the car. Survey the area and see if the other person involved in the accident is okay. Offer to help them out of their car if their car is a complete loss.
Once that’s done, try to move your cars out of the road to avoid further accidents. If that’s not possible, you may want to direct other cars from colliding with yours if it is safe to do so.
Pro Tip: Carry a car safety kit and bottles of water for situations like this. Always be prepared for whatever kind of situation that may arise.
When you’re out of harm’s way, it’s time to assess the damage to your car and contact the local authorities.
#2 – Assess the damage and call the local authorities
Take a look at your car and see how bad the damage is. Take pictures for insurance purposes. If you were able to move it out of the road, then that’s a good sign that your car is still somewhat operable. If you were unable to move it, then immediately call the police. Use the flares or reflectors from your car safety kit to create a perimeter for passing cars.
When the local authorities arrive, exchange information with them and the other person involved. Allow the paramedics to check you. If your car is totaled, collect your belongings and let the tow truck take your car away.
Once a police report has been made and the paramedics deem it safe for you to leave the scene, schedule an Uber. That's only if your car is totaled. Regardless, it’s time to find a place to stay for the night until you can get your bearings.
#3 – Find a place to stay
It can be very disorienting to get into an accident while you’re traveling. You might not know exactly where you are or what’s nearby. The best thing to do is do a little research and figure out where you can stay for a few hours or for the night.
Normally, there are a great number of hotels near highways and interstates. Find the closest one to you and head there via your own car or a rideshare service if your car is totaled. Whether you stay there for the night or just for a few hours is up to you.
An accident while traveling is stressful. When you reach your hotel, make sure to wind down and relax. Now is a great time to get some rest and then call your insurance company.
#4 – File a claim with your insurance company
Your insurance will go through the process of determining how totaled your car is and determining what costs will be covered from the accident. If they decide that your car is a total loss, they will compensate you for its worth. If they decide that your car is not a total loss, then your insurance will cover some or all of your repairs based on your deductible.
Make sure you know what your deductible is and what the insurance company will pay for. Ask pointed questions and be honest about what happened.
There’s nothing worse than lying to your insurance company. Depending on the severity of the lie, there can be serious repercussions of insurance fraud. You can risk going to jail or paying some hefty fines. Just be careful.
In the meantime, it’s a good idea to rent a car if yours is totaled or in need of repairs. It’s also time to consider your next move.
#5 – Rent a car and plan your next move
Renting a car is the final step after speaking with your insurance. Most insurances cover rentals, but just to be sure, check with your insurance company and your policy. If your car is in need of repairs, renting will help you get where you need to go while you wait.
You also have a very important choice to make: Continue your travels or go home. Depending on the situation, the best choice may be to go home. However, if you decide to continue your road trip, make sure that you are alert and diligent on the road. You don’t want another accident. Who knows? Maybe continuing your journey may be exactly what you need. Only you can decide that.
Having an accident while on the road can take a lot out of you. Hopefully, we’ve prepared you in case you ever do end up in this kind of predicament. These five steps will not always be in this exact order, but expect to have to do them should this happen to you. Be smart on the road and be prepared for whatever may happen.