Women taking photo of the scene after a car accident

Things I wish I'd known before I had an accident

4 minute read

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Do you know what to do if you're in an accident? Our guide may help...

  • Why you should try and get as many photos as you can 
  • The critical piece of information you must provide your insurer 
  • What details you need to write down after an accident 

Being in a car accident, no matter how minor, is an awful experience. In the aftermath, it can be easy to forget to take down key details that will ensure your car insurance has you covered.

But what’s next? Here’s our claim team’s list of things people wish they knew before they had a crash.

1. You may need to call the police

If any people or animals have been injured in the accident, call 999 as soon as possible. If you don't need an emergency response, then call the police on 101 instead.

The police should also be called if:

  • The accident is blocking the road
  • You suspect you’re a victim of a ‘crash for cash’ scam, where a driver deliberately causes an accident to make a fraudulent insurance claim. A dash cam can help in this situation.

2. Whatever you do, get the other car’s registration number

Without it, you’ll only be able to make a non-recoverable claim (where claim costs can’t be recovered from the other party’s insurer).

“We understand it’s an upsetting experience, and often everything goes out the window due to shock,” says a spokesperson for the LV= claims team.

“But it’s important you remember to get the registration number in order for us to progress your claim.”

3. Take photos, then exchange key details with the third party 

Once you’ve taken as many photos as possible and noted the registration number, try and get as many of the other person’s details as you can.

Ideally, you’ll be able to get the other person’s:

  • Full name
  • Registration
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • The name of their insurance company – though don’t worry too much if you can’t get this, as the details will be available through the registration number

If you can, try and get the make, model and colour of their vehicle, too. If the accident involves a commercial vehicle with clear signwriting, the company name can also be helpful to your insurer.

Whatever you do, get the other car's registration

4. Ask any witnesses for their information 

If anyone else saw the incident, it’s worth asking them if they’re happy to act as a witness. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll need to stand up in court and testify, just that they’re happy to provide a statement to your insurer as further evidence. Make sure you write down their name and phone number. If you can, get their address too.

5. Remember, apologising won't invalidate your claim

Some media reports suggest apologising after an accident can make you liable for invalidate your claim. This is highly unlikely, according to our claims team.

"Sometimes third parties say they're 'sorry' after an incident, and then later, when they go to their insurer, change their mind and deny all knowledge of this,"  says a spokesperson for the LV= claims team.

"However, just because a third party has said sorry doesn’t mean they’re negligent, it’s often just an automatic reaction after an accident."

The type of incident mentioned in the article wouldn't invalidate a claim.

"The onus would also be on the non-fault party to prove negligence, and an apology isn't proof." 

6. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible

Make sure you tell your insurer about the car accident as soon as you can. You should always inform your car insurance company about an accident, even if you don't want to make a claim.

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