Emmanuelle Bertrand | Journalist
Emotions can quickly take over if you've been involved in a collision. It's good to be proactive by knowing in advance what information you'll need and what you can do to make the insurance claim process a bit easier.
Better safe than sorry...
- Always keep an accident report -- and a pen -- in your glove compartment
- Always have your driver's licence, registration and proof of insurance on hand
- Fill out the sections of the report related to these document in advance
In the heat of the moment following a collision, "your immediate thoughts should always be about the well-being of the people involved rather than any material damage," points out Mélissa Corriveau, Manager of the Claims Specialists Department (Québec), with Desjardins General Insurance. Taking a step back and a few deep breaths should help you keep your cool.
Your trusty accident report
In the event of a minor fender bender, an accident report is the best way to ensure you collect all the information you need. Plus, it will make the insurance claim procedure so much easier.
Some insurers, including Desjardins, give their clients a personalized worksheet or other tool for taking notes in the event of an accident.
If you don't have an accident report, think about taking a picture or other type of evidence, if possible.
Information to collect
According to our expert, here are the essential pieces of information to collect from the drivers involved:
- Driver's licence
- Proof of insurance
- Phone number
If there are multiple vehicles involved: make sure you get the same information from each of the other drivers as well.
Think about making note of where the collision took place: you can also take a picture of the address or intersection. This information will help establish the degree of responsibility of each driver involved.
It may be useful, although not crucial, to note any damage observed to the vehicles, take pictures of the accident site or make a sketch. If your vehicle needs to be towed away, make sure you ask where it's going!
When should you call the police?
- When someone is injured: getting a police report will facilitate the process of obtaining services from the Société d'assurances automobile du Québec for the injured parties
- When someone flees the scene: think about recording the time of the events (time of arrival on site, accident), the models of cars parked nearby and their licence plate numbers, and any other details that may help track down the person who fled
- When the accident takes place outside your own province: "Laws and regulations may vary from one province to another and especially from one state to another in the United States, warns Corriveau. The risk of legal disputes is very high for insureds, both with respect to material damage and bodily harm. Don't hesitate to take pictures of the other party's vehicle and the damage caused."
In more complex cases, it may be a good idea to call for emergency services. Note that the time it takes for the insurer to receive the police report can vary a great deal, from a few days to a few weeks.