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Don’t be a crash test dummy: Tips for after an accident



CARSON CITY, Nev. – According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts report, during 2009, more than 5.5 million motor vehicle crashes were reported to police across the U.S. If you were in an accident, would you know what information to get for an insurance claim? The Nevada Division of insurance (Division) offers these easy to follow tips to get the necessary information following a crash.

Be Prepared

“The most important thing a driver can do to be prepared for an accident is to know and understand their auto insurance policy,” said Commissioner Brett Barratt. “Knowing your deductibles, limits and what phone number to call to file a claim will help to reduce stress and confusion should you ever get in an accident.”

For help understanding your policy download the Nevada Consumer’s Guide to Auto Insurance Rates (http://bit.ly/nvauto) or contact the Division at doi.nv.gov or over the phone at (775) 687-0700 in Northern Nevada and (702) 486-4009 in Southern Nevada.

Remember, insurance follows the car, not the driver. Always make sure there is a current copy of the insurance ID card in the car with your car registration.

After an Accident

The minutes and hours following an accident can be hectic and adrenaline-filled. Here are ten important things to remember in the heat of the moment:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Assess the scene. Do not get out of your car if it is not safe to do so.
  3. Check for injuries.
  4. Call the police. Tell them where you are, what happened and if there are injuries.
  5. Do not admit fault.
  6. Exchange information with the other drivers. Get: Name, address, phone, insurer’s name, insurer’s phone and policy number for all of the drivers involved.
  7. Get names and phone numbers of witnesses.
  8. Have your cell phone or a disposable camera ready to take photos/video of the scene including the damage to all cars.
  9. Record your record of the events.
  10. If the police respond, find out where to get a copy of the police report for your claim. If the police do not come to the scene, ask police dispatch where you can file an incident report. Nevada law also requires a report be filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if police do not investigate the scene of the accident. Contact your local DMV office or visit dmvnv.com for more information.

Filing the Claim

Filing a claim can be a confusing process. Notify your agent or insurance company about the accident as soon as possible while the details are still fresh in your mind. When you call, have as much information ready as possible, including the police report, your insurance card or declarations page, and all of the information collected at the scene. If you do not receive a police report immediately, call to file your claim anyways.

Ask questions. Make sure you understand whose coverage pays for which damages. If there were injuries, Nevada is a tort state. However, if you are traveling out of state ask if the accident took place in a tort or no-fault state and how that affects your claim.

If it was a multi-car accident, the insurance companies involved may investigate the circumstances of the crash. A claims adjuster will likely want to examine the damage to the car and talk with you about the accident. Your insurance company will use the adjuster’s findings as one of the bases of their settlement.

If it was a minor accident and the car is still drivable, the company may offer you several auto repair shops to choose from that can also act as the adjuster for the claim.

Regardless of how you get your car fixed, keep notes of all conversations you have with various company representatives. Also keep all written material regarding the claim.

More Information

Contact the Division at (775) 687-0700 in Northern Nevada and (702) 486-4009 in Southern Nevada. The consumer services staff can better explain the claims process and can assist if you need to file a complaint against the insurance company.

About the Nevada Division of Insurance

The Nevada Division of Insurance protects the rights of Nevada consumers in their experiences with the insurance industry and ensures the financial solvency of insurers. The Division investigated more than 2,400 consumer complaints during fiscal year 2010. The total premium dollar amount of all lines of insurance in Nevada for 2010 was approximately $11 billion. The Division is an accredited member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a national organization comprised of state insurance regulators dedicated to the development of good public policy in insurance.

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