May 2008, Business Fleet - Feature
Best Practices: Reporting the Accident and Handling the Claim
Document the Accident
Carry a disposable camera in the car to photograph the damage to all vehicles involved. Include photos that reveal the overall context of the crash—road conditions, intersection site, traffic signs or lights, etc.
Record in writing all pertinent information concerning the incident, including:
- When and where - Date, time and exact location of the accident.
- Ohers involved - Contact information for all third-party drivers (including insurance policy numbers) and pedestrians; description of vehicle(s) involved, how the accident occurred and description of damages to vehicles
- Conditions - Weather and street conditions, conditions as vehicles were in motion
- Injuries - List of persons injured, contact information and hospital details
- Police investigation - If the police were notified, the police department, contact information and any arrests or citations
- Witnesses - Contact info of all witnesses
- Diagram of scene - To make a sketch of accident scene
This information is generally found on an accident report form.
Tip: Be a data collector, not an investigator.
While your fleet drivers have a critical role in handling accidents, they should also know the limits of their role.
“We don’t want them being investigators,” White says. “It’s not their job to assess liability or to determine the amount of damages. It’s just their job to identify the issues, collect the contact information and get it to their company as quickly as they can.”
Process the Claim
Quickly submitting the accident form and any police reports or information over to your insurance provider or adjuster should be a top priority. This way, the adjuster can start investigating what happened while facts are fresh in the minds of everyone involved.
The adjusters will be the ones to reassure the parties that the claim will be handled swiftly and fairly, so it’s best that they get in touch with the parties as quickly as possible.
Depending on the severity of the accident, the damaged vehicle may be a part of an investigation, which will affect when the vehicle can be repaired and get back on the road.
Tip: Use a pre-approved body shop to expedite the claims process.
Many insurance companies have preapproved body shops with preapproved repair rates, says Kelly Silva of GNW-Evergreen Insurance Services. This saves scheduling an appointment with an adjuster to examine the vehicle.
“If you the policyholder are okay with using their shop, you can drop it off there, and whatever that shop says it will cost is what the insurance company will agree to pay,” says Kelly Silva of GNW-Evergreen Insurance Services. “The rates are preapproved.”
When turning in a claim, you’ll need to provide a copy of the accident report form, a police report if applicable and proof of loss of damages. Keep track of reimbursable costs such as tow bills and storage fees.
Following these procedures will help get your fleet vehicle back on the road quicker. “Even with a bad accident, if everything is filled out correctly, you’d be surprised at how smoothly, fairly and quickly the adjusting process can go,” says White.
For a complete glove box accident report guide, click here.