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CA Department of Insurance

Commissioner Jones Offers Checklist to Keep Drivers On Course After An Auto Accident

News: 2011 Press Release

For Release: July 1, 2011
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Commissioner Jones Offers Checklist to Keep Drivers On Course After An Auto Accident
Encourages Motorists to be Extra Careful During July 4th Holiday Get Away

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today offered Californians a series of helpful and important driver safety tips as people prepare for the long holiday weekend.

"As we enter into the busy 4th of July weekend it's important to remember what steps to take should you suffer a breakdown or are involved in an accident as you travel to and from your holiday festivities," said Commissioner Jones. "A good way to start is by refreshing your memory about what is covered by your auto insurance policy. What is your deductible, liability limits and are towing and a rental car covered?"

The Commissioner advises motorists to keep in mind that insurance follows the car, not the driver, so make sure there is a current copy of the insurance ID card and an accident checklist with your car registration. 

After an Accident

The minutes and hours following an accident can be hectic and adrenaline-filled. Here are 10 important things to remember in the heat of the moment:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Assess the scene. Do not get out of your car if it is not safe to do so.
  3. Check for injuries.
  4. Call the police. Tell them where you are, what happened and if there are injuries.
  5. Do not admit fault.
  6. Exchange information with the other drivers.
  7. Get names and phone numbers of witnesses.
  8. Take photos/video of the scene, including the damage to all cars.
  9. Write down your record of events.
  10. If the police respond, find out where to get a copy of the police report for your claim. If the police do not come to the scene, ask police dispatch where you can file an incident report.

Filing a Claim

Filing a claim can be a confusing process. To help, notify your agent or insurance company about the accident as soon as possible while the details are still fresh in your mind. When you call have available the police report, your insurance card or declarations page, and all of the information collected at the scene. Ask questions. Make sure you understand who's coverage pays for which damages.

If it's a multi-car accident, the insurance companies involved may investigate the circumstances of the crash. A claims adjuster will likely want to examine the damage to the car and talk with you about the accident. You insurance company will use the adjuster's findings as the basis of their settlement.

If it's a minor accident and the car is drivable, the company may offer you several auto repair shops to choose from. No matter how you decide to get your car fixed, keep notes of all conversations you have with various company representatives and keep all written material regarding the claim.

The Commissioner reminds motorists that the best way to avoid filing an insurance claim is by avoiding an accident through safe driving. Drive defensively, keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, pay attention and don't text. He adds that if your car breaks down pull off the road, away from traffic; turn on emergency blinking lights; lift your hood and tie something white to it to alert passing police.

"If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to call the California Department of Insurance," said Commissioner Jones. "We're here to get those questions answered and help in any way we can."

Motorists are encouraged to call CDI's Consumer Hotline, with any questions or concerns, at 1-800-927-HELP, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (PST).

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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