What To Do After An Accident
Unfortunately, bad things do happen, no matter how careful we are. Think through these 13 steps now. If an accident happens, you’ll know what to do.
1. Promptly notify the police and call for an ambulance if anyone is hurt.
2. Cooperate with the authorities who come to the scene.
3. Take reasonable steps to protect your vehicle from another loss. Consider moving it out of the flow of traffic.
4. Try to record everything on the scene. Your notes should include details of the accident, identification of the autos and people involved, and the names and badge numbers of all emergency personnel. Take pictures if possible.
5. Insist on breath tests if you suspect drugs or alcohol are involved.
6. Don’t accept money. Don’t accept fault. And don’t agree to forget about the accident.
7. Get copies of all police reports.
8. Have the insurance company inspect and appraise the damage before any steps are taken to repair it.
9. Cooperate with the insurance carrier representative in the investigation, defense or settlement.
10. Send your insurance carrier copies of any notice or legal papers received in connection with the accident as soon as possible. Make sure you keep the originals.
11. If you are injured, submit to physical examinations by physicians selected by the insurance carrier as often as they reasonably require. (The insurance carrier pays the cost of these examinations.)
12. Give your authorization for the insurance carrier to obtain medical reports and other pertinent records.
13. File a claim.
Before You File a Claim
Be sure you know the answers to these questions before you have to file a claim:
1. How much liability insurance do you have? This coverage pays for damage you cause to another vehicle or injuries to other people.
2. Does your state have no-fault insurance? What coverages does it provide?
3. What’s the deductible for your collision and/or comprehensive coverage?
When You File a Claim
If your car is involved in an accident, if it is damaged by fire, flood or vandalism, or if it is stolen, here are the steps to filing an insurance claim:
1. Phone your insurance company or local company representative.
Do it as soon as possible, even if you’re far from home and even if someone else caused the accident. Ask your company how to proceed and what forms or documents will be needed to support your claim, such as medical and auto repair bills and a copy of the police report.
2. Supply the information your insurer needs.
Normally, written notice of the accident or loss must be given to your insurance company as soon as it is reasonably possible. The notice should have:
Cooperate with your insurance company in its investigation, settlement or defense of any claim, and turn over to the company immediately copies of any legal papers you receive in connection with your loss. Make sure you keep the originals.
- your name
- the names and addresses of all persons involved
- the hour, date, place and facts of the accident or loss, and
- the names and addresses of witnesses
Your insurer will represent you if a claim is brought against you and attempt to resolve that claim or defend you if you're sued according to the terms and conditions of your policy.
3. Keep records of your expenses.
Expenses you incur as a result of an automobile accident may be reimbursed under your policy. For example, a no-fault insurance policy will usually pay your medical expenses, and possibly other costs such as lost wages or at least part of your costs if you have to hire a temporary housekeeper.
4. Keep copies of your paperwork.
Store copies of all your paperwork in your own files. You may need to refer to it later.
THE WINTER FREEZE IS HERE... IS YOUR HOME PREPARED?
The new year is just arriving and with it the cold winter weather months of January and February. Ice, snow and wind can have devastating effects on your home. Each year, there are countless dollars in insured losses due to burst pipes, frozen gutters and other weather-related disasters. The Independent Insurance Agents of New Jersey suggest that homeowners take the following precautions during this cold weather season:
- Maintain gutters. Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and their debris from gutters so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This will prevent ice damming – a condition where water is unable to properly drain through the gutters and seeps into the house causing water to drip from the ceiling and walls.
- Trim trees and remove dead branches. Ice, snow and wind may cause weak trees or branches to break – damaging your home, car or injuring someone walking on your property.
- Check insulation. Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic, it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. Once the water re-freezes, more snow and ice build up, and could result in a collapsed roof. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing.
- Maintain pipes. Wrap pipes with heating tape and insulate unfinished rooms such as garages that frequently have exposed pipes.
- Check heating systems. Have furnaces, boilers and chimneys serviced at least once a year. Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly.
- Make sure steps and handrails are in good shape. Broken stairs and banisters can become lethal when covered with snow and ice. Make repairs now to prevent someone from falling and seriously being injured.
- Get to know your plumbing. Learn how to shut outside water pipes off. Know where these pipes are located. If your pipes do freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem the better chance you have to prevent the pipes from bursting.
- Take special care if you plan to be away. If you are leaving your home for the winter, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting. If you plan to leave your home for a short period lower the thermostat but do not shut the heat off entirely.
Preparing For A Disaster
To get started ...
Contact your local emergency management or civil defense office and your local American Red Cross chapter.
Meet with your family:
- Find out which disasters are most likely to happen in your community.
- Ask how you would be warned.
- Find out how to prepare for each.
Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated by disaster:
- Discuss the types of disasters that could occur.
- Explain how to prepare and respond.
- Discuss what to do if advised to evacuate.
- Practice what you have discussed.
Complete these steps:
- Pick two meeting places:
- 1. A location a safe distance from your home in case of fire.
- 2. A place outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.
- Choose an out-of-state friend as a "check-in-contact" for everyone to call.
Meet with your neighbors:
- Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone.
- Show responsible family members how and when to shut off water, gas and electricity at main switches.
- Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries two times each year.
- Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards.
- Learn first aid and CPR. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information and training.
Remember to practice and maintain your plan.
- Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster.
- Know your neighbor's skills (medical, technical).
- Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as elderly or disabled persons.
- Make plans for child care in case parents can't get home.
Fire Disaster Tips
Did you know:
Before a Fire:
- A residential fire occurs in the United States every 67 seconds.
- Accidents related to cooking usually cause more residential fires than any other known cause.
- Careless smoking is the leading known cause of residential fire deaths.
- Arson is the No. 1 cause of nonresidential fires.
After a Fire:
- Make a written or videotaped inventory of household possessions/property and store in a safe place with insurance policies, documents and other valuables.
- Install a battery-powered smoke detector outside each sleeping area and on each level of your home.
- Use the test button to check each smoke detector once a month.
- Replace smoke detector batteries at least once a year.
- Install a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
- Take a first aid class from your local Red Cross chapter.
- Determine at least two ways to escape from every room in your home.
- Select a location outside your home to serve as meeting place after escaping.
- Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
This is provided courtesy of the Independent Insurance Agents of America.
- Call your independent insurance agent as soon as possible.
- Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
- Delay permanent repairs until your insurer approves reimbursement.
- Get any necessary construction permits from your community.
- Keep all receipts.
- Prepare an inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property.
- Take photos of damaged areas.
- Save remnants of damaged or destroyed property for your insurance company adjuster.
- Meet with your adjuster first, before signing anything with contractors, lawyers or public adjusters.
This information is provided for general information. Ehly-Cosenza Insurance Agency makes no representation as to the information's completeness or accuracy. We urge you to contact the agencies directly for specific information and instructions.