Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

Best Practices: Reporting the Accident and Handling the Claim

May 2008, by Joan Shim

According to the latest available government figures, a motor vehicle crash occurs on U.S. roadways once every five seconds. And National Safety Council statistics report that some 20 million drivers — nearly 10 percent of all U.S. drivers — were involved in an auto accident in 2006.

In the face of such numbers, even the most careful driver can suddenly encounter bad luck on the road. What should drivers do when involved in a crash? How should you handle the incident when the call comes in?

The following checklists will help you and your drivers get through the immediate aftermath of a crash while helping to expedite the claims adjusting process.

Be Prepared

Establish and enforce a crash reporting and investigation process. Company policy should clearly guide drivers through their responsibility after a crash. All crashes should be reviewed to determine the cause, their preventability and what can be done to avoid similar crashes in the future.

Make sure your fleet drivers have the tools to properly deal with an accident. Place in the vehicle glove compartment copies of such important documents as:

  • Insurance company ID card.
  • Valid vehicle registration.
  • Medical alerts detailing personal allergy or health conditions that may require special attention if you are seriously injured. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. This kit should include:
  • Road flares or warning triangles.
  • Brightly colored cloth to tie to the driver-side door.
  • Disposable camera.
  • Flashlight with fully charged batteries.
  • First aid kit.
  • Basic tool kit.
  • Duct tape.
  • Pad of paper and pen.
  • Accident report form

Tip: Use accident report forms.

An accident report form takes the guesswork out of what can be an emotional and confusing situation.

“It’s all the more important that customers get this information in minor accidents that tend not to be reported,” says Bill White, vice president of the transportation division at Cambridge Integrated Services, a management firm headquartered in Connecticut. “This may be the only chance to get information about facts of loss or parties involved, especially if they didn’t call the police.”

To view a standard accident report form, view this article online at www.businessfleet.com in the magazine’s “features” section. It includes a list of what to do (and what not to do) when an accident happens.

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