Major car accidents where drivers are incapacitated are almost exclusively handled by emergency authorities. However, for minor collisions where the drivers are physically fine, the drivers are primarily responsible for everything from towing to rentals. Often, drivers are in a state of shock and are not often capable of making sound decisions. Here are five tips to ensure that you can better manage your fender-bender:
Find out what your deductible is for repairs
Most insurance companies allow you to increase your deductible in exchange for lower monthly rates. Weigh the risk of having to shell out more cash from your own pocket to cover the deductible versus saving money on monthly payments. The purpose of insurance is to cover damages without you having to pay out-of-pocket. The bigger the deductible, the more you’ll have to pay in an accident situation. Just in case, save enough money to cover your deductible in a protected rainy-day account.
Beware “good samaritans”
Be cautious of anyone who suddenly comes to your aid after a crash. If he gets too nosy or suggests a shop or tow driver, he is likely a vulture from that repair shop or towing company who waits for accidents, and then shows up. By most provincial laws, you have the right to choose your tow driver, and to have your car towed to a shop of your choice, including police lots. If you insist on your shop, the driver must comply. Vultures count on your mental state to work in their favour, so assert yourself even if you’re still feeling stunned. Start taking your car to a regular garage and build a relationship with the staff. You’ll feel better about taking your vehicle to someone you trust.
A Brampton, Ontario man involved in a minor accident where he collided with a car. The other driver jumped out of her car and ran to check on him. When police arrived, she “suddenly” claimed whiplash, despite suffering no damage to her vehicle. When he started taking pictures with his cell camera, the other driver’s “condition” miraculously improved. Include items in the background for scale such as signs, check under the car for leaking fluids, points of contact between the vehicles, and licence plates.
Don’t volunteer extraneous information.
It is always possible for the other victims of the accident to sue you for personal damages. If the police ask you direct questions, answer them honestly, but do not volunteer redundant information that may be used against you. Volunteering seemingly minor facts – for instance, if you were “tired” or otherwise distracted before the crash – can be damaging in a civil case. State only the bare facts and avoid your own interpretations of the events.
If you already have a rental car company in mind, ensure that the tow truck driver takes you directly there and not somewhere else. Many smaller car rental companies offer finder-fees for tow truck drivers who net them clients from accidents. If you have no preference, then there is no problem, but make sure that the driver doesn’t quietly take you someplace you don’t want to be. Though cheaper, smaller companies are not necessarily reputable or accountable. If you do end up at a strange rental shop, make sure a representative goes with you to do a circle check of your new vehicle to verify existing damage, and read the fine print before signing off on any rental. Ask to check the wipers and dashboard instruments as well, including CD players and vents. If anything is inoperable, let them know before signing.