Friday, March 21, 2014

What To Do After A (Simple) Car Accident

These days with so many cars on the road, straight forward car accidents are very common. From brushing against each other, clipping each other, kissing bum of the car in front etc.

I happened to be in one recently, and so documenting the whole process may help in future if a similar situation arises again.

Here's what to do when a collision happens.

1) Ensure There Are No Injuries
If there are any, no matter serious or not, you MUST make a police report. If injuries are serious or life-threatening, call 999/995 immediately. Else, proceed to the next step.

2) Evaluate Damage
This is where having a camera phone is of utmost importance. Where possible take a picture of the accident scene, else if on a jammed expressway, then snap the damage as best as you can. Thereafter it is better to move away from obstructing traffic (road shoulder) and take photos of damage on BOTH vehicles. If you don't have a camera phone on you, then make a mental note of what has been damaged (bumper, car plate, bonnet, trunk etc), and how badly damaged.

3) Take Down Four Crucial Pieces Of Information
- Other car license plate number (MOST CRITICAL!!!)
- Other driver's full name
- Other driver's contact number
- Other driver's IC/driver's license number

4) Discuss Settlement
If your are at fault, a cash settlement without bothering the insurance companies would be a preferred route especially if damage is very small. If damage is really bad, then reporting insurance is better. This will affect your next year's premiums and NCD though. Also you have to use your insurance company's approved workshops. Hopefully they give you a replacement car while your car is being serviced.

If you are NOT at fault, then reporting insurance is always the best route because insurance coverage for 3rd parties are usually fully covered at almost any workshop. This means driving to your favourite workshop, damage will be assessed, and you'll get a replacement car, all without forking out a cent. Try not to settle privately unless damage is very light and payment terms are properly arranged.

You MUST report any accident to your insurance company within 24hrs of the accident.

5) Accident Statement
In order to claim insurance, either you call your insurance company and they will arrange to meet you or direct you to a nearest location to do the paperwork, or head to the workshop areas in Singapore like AMK, Ubi, Defu, where they tend to have people there to cover servicing or your car, accident reporting and vehicle rental.

6) Notes
Some highlights to take note.

- Other vehicle license plate number is the one key piece of information you definitely need in accident reporting.

- Scammers could be nearby. Some random car actually stopped at our accident site and tried to drag us to his workshop claiming they help cover all the paperwork and are 'witnesses' to the accident. Luckily an EMAS truck was around the corner and the LTA officer actually told us to stay away as they were syndicated scammers trying to rip victims off.

- Private settlements are tricky part 1. If you're at fault then count your lucky stars that the other party is willing to settle privately. But be wary because a cunning scammer could screw you by taking money from you AND reporting to his insurance company anyway, which will get you into trouble since you didn't report to yours thinking it was a private settlement. Sometimes, getting the

- Private settlements are tricky part 2. If you're not at fault but for some reason choose to settle privately, then the least you can do is protect yourself. Some serial accident-prone drivers maybe go to great lengths to promise you the sky only to cheat you after the 24hr insurance reporting period is over. Paying by cheque, by instalments, over next few days etc are UNACCEPTABLE. Either collect cash within the day, or have them transfer to your ATM account immediately. All other alternatives lead to possible delays and reneges on agreed amounts or worse still, abscondance or counter claims (saying it's now your fault). Any insurance or police claims after 24hrs is ineffective already.

- If agreeable, draft a written contract on the spot and have both parties sign. It may not do much but may act as a binding agreement to prevent the other party from absconding or reneging on a previously agreed settlement.

- Know a trusted mechanic. Ask friends to recommend, assess their advice on your own and judge their general integrity from the advice they give. A good mechanic will normally encourage reporting to the insurance company instead of private settlement because while it guarantees they will earn your business, they won't be able to overcharge the insurance companies for unrequired servicing.

- Get your own damage cost opinion of the other party's vehicle. Having a photo of the damage is important to show your trusted mechanic and getting his opinion of the costs involved for the other guy as well. This is particularly useful especially during private settlements where it is easy to inflate costs.

End of the day, drive safe and know your post accident procedures so that you and your loved ones have greater peace of mind.

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