Getting into a car accident can be a harrowing experience, especially if it’s your first one and you have no idea what to do. But that’s exactly why many drivers lose money and even forfeit their car insurance claim — because they didn’t do their homework prior.
Knowing what to do in the event of a car accident seems complicated and difficult to recall when you’re panic-stricken; but that shouldn’t be the case.
To help you along, we’ve come up with an easy way to keep the details at your fingertips. Here’s presenting the 4Cs of a successful car insurance claim, presented by MoneySmart and Aviva:
1. Calm down and assess the situation
This is easier said than done, but do your very best to keep a level head and stay as relaxed as possible. Be aware of your surroundings as that will definitely come in handy for your car insurance claim.
Take a look around. How many vehicles are involved in the crash? What’s the extent of the damage? Do you see anyone suspicious lurking at the scene or do you suspect foul play? Is anyone hurt?
If someone is injured and needs medical attention, you MUST call an ambulance (995) and the police (999) to report the accident to them.
2. Collect details
I know administrative duties seem like the last thing on your mind when you’ve just had a nasty shock and there are tons of things to settle (like fixing your brand-new car), plus you are now extremely late for an important meeting at work. Ugh.
But you MUST collect pertinent details to ensure that your car insurance claim is successful. Be sure to note down the following from all parties involved:
- NRIC/FIN number(s)
- Contact number(s)
- Vehicle registration number(s)
- Name(s) of insurer(s)
You also need to take photos at the scene, as these serve as visual details that you need to submit to your insurer (or even the police or court, if there’s a larger dispute). Make sure you:
- Take photos from every angle
- Have wide shots of the vehicles at the scene
- Have close-up shots of the damage (both your car and the other vehicles involved)
- Snap pictures of the licence plate(s)
The other driver(s) will, of course, approach you for the same. But other than the necessary details, do NOT pay/sign a promissory note and NEVER admit liability. Doing this will most certainly jeopardise your insurance claim, and might even land you in hot soup even if nothing is your fault!
3. Call your insurer ASAP
Okay, this is a no-brainer. You need to report the incident to your insurer within 24 hours, or else you might just forfeit the claim altogether. Of course, prioritise urgent matters like getting medical help before anything else.
In certain cases, this is automatic, and your insurer might even send people down to render you much-needed assistance. For example, those on Aviva’s Motor Prestige Plan will have an eCall (emergency call) smart device fitted into their car. This small device can detect that an accident happened, and will automatically notify Aviva’s 24/7 hotline with details such as the severity of the crash and your car’s location so that the emergency response team can immediately contact and locate you if needed.
4. Consider your NCD
This No-Claim Discount, or NCD, is a very important component of car insurance. If you buy car insurance and don’t make any claims on it, you can get a bigger discount for each subsequent year on your car insurance premium. However, should you (touch wood) get into a mishap, many insurers impose an NCD penalty, so your premium goes back up.
So, sometimes we need to look at the overall picture. If you walked away unscathed from an accident, and the only thing is a tiny, superficial, hairline scratch on your bonnet… perhaps you’re better off just paying the workshop a few dollars out of pocket (or even ignoring the scratch) instead of making a claim and forfeiting your hard-earned NCD.
By the way, Aviva has one of the lowest NCD penalties (if not THE lowest), with only a 10% NCD reduction for each and every claim (Aviva Motor Standard and Motor Prestige Plans only)… so it really helps when you are in a dilemma about making the claim (just go ahead lah, 10% only!).
But if you don’t even want to make a dent in your NCD (pun intended), that’s also possible. For instance, Aviva has an NCD protector rider that you can purchase.
And you know that irritating clause where you must go to your insurer’s specified workshop (even if it is super out of the way, and you have trust issues), well those under the Aviva Motor Standard and Motor Prestige Plan can head to any workshop for repairs.
If you’ve got goldfish memory and can’t remember what these 4Cs stand for, may I suggest that you write them down succinctly and stick them in a prominent place in your car for easy reference — just in case! Because it’s always good to be prepared for the unexpected.
What other tips do you have to ensure a successful car insurance claim? Let us know in the comments below!