Having a car accident anywhere in the world is nerve-wracking. Here are some tips about what to do when one happens and how to deal with the insurance claim process afterward.
1. Safety first
- Where possible, check you have moved your vehicle safely off the road
- Put on your hazard lights
- If necessary, ask someone to stand between one and two football fields (100 to 200 meters) from the accident and flag down drivers to alert them of the accident.
If anyone is injured, call 111 to ask for ambulance services.
2. Get details
If it is a minor accident and you both agree on who was at fault, then exchange details with other drivers and witnesses:
Aim to record:
- Addresses (of the other drivers/witnesses)
- Phone numbers (mobile numbers)
- Car registration (the number plate of the other vehicles)
- Insurance company details
If an uninsured driver has hit you, it is essential to ask for details and, if possible, record the driver’s license details.
3. Take photos
Take photos of the damage to your vehicle (and the other person’s vehicle) and any other photos relevant to an insurance claim.
4. Property damage
If you caused damage to another person’s property (such as a fence), report it to that person within 48 hours. If you cannot contact that person, you should notify the police.
5. When to contact the police
If there are any injuries as a result of the accident (even minor injuries), these should be reported to the police within 24 hours of the accident.
6. Insurance claims
- If you caused the accident, you must contact your insurance company promptly and ask for the claims department.
You must fill out a claims form and email it to the claims department.
- If someone else caused the accident, and they have insurance, they need to lodge a claim with their insurance company. You could ask that they phone, email, or text message you when this has been done and provide you with a claim number.
You can ask the driver for information about the claim process or contact the insurance company directly (with the claim number) and ask for information.
Claim processing is rarely a fast procedure, so be prepared that it could take two or more weeks to get clear on the outcome of the insurance claim.
- If someone has caused an accident and is not insured, you must deal directly with that person.
If they agree they are liable, write this (email is good).
If you need to get your car repaired, getting two or three quotes for the repairs and liaising with the driver so they can see you have shopped around for a fair price for the repairs could be worthwhile.
If there is a dispute over who is liable, you may need to lodge a claim with the Disputes Tribunal.
👉 For additional information about insuring your car in New Zealand, you can check the following post: Car Insurance in New Zealand