What to do after a vehicle collision that’s not your fault

2016 Datsun Go
HELP KEEP YOUR CLAIMS DOWN: Buying a budget car such as this 2016 Datsun Go will help to keep you monthly insurance payments – as well as the excess payment in the case of a collision – down to manageable figures. Image: Datsun SA

Few things equal the frustration and inconvenience of someone running into your car: it sets off a chain reaction of phone calls, insurance quotes, panel beaters and rental cars, not to mention paying you insurance excess.

While all of the above is unavoidable, you can make it easier on yourself by following these basic rules…

“Dealing with your car insurance company after a crash can be a challenge, even for the calmest individual,” says Des Fenner, general manager of Datsun South Africa. “However, it is vital that you don’t lose your cool; you need to be methodical and meticulously record everything that happened. By sticking to the rules, you will increase your chances of a successful claim and may even get your excess back.”

REPORT THE CRASH AS SOON AS YOU CAN 

The first thing you need to do after the collision is gather information. The driver who crashed into your car is responsible for reporting the event to his or her car insurance company. However, you will need to make sure you contact your insurer with all relevant information pertaining to the crash as well.

If you don’t report it to your insurer within the prescribed period you may not be able to claim, even if the collision was not your fault or the damage to your car was negligible. People who cause a collision are sometimes reluctant to report them so make sure you get their all their details so you can report everything to your insurer and the police.

“You need to try to get complete information about the other party at the collision scene. This includes their name and surname, phone numbers, address, insurance company name and policy information. Also take note of the registration number of the other vehicle – check this number against the licence disc – just in case.

“If possible, ask for the details of witnesses and gather as much photographic evidence as possible. Most phones have a cameras; pictures are helpful for your insurance company because they can be used to claim back money from the other party’s insurance.”

YOUR INSURER WILL MAKE A DETERMINATION

Fenner added: “Try to notify all relevant parties of the collision within 24 hours. This includes your insurer, the police and the other party’s insurance company. If they don’t have insurance, your insurer will attempt to claim from them directly, but don’t worry – you will still be paid out if you abide by your insurer’s terms and conditions.

“The police will determine who is at fault for ticketing purposes but they may not even issue a ticket. The insurer will make its own determination of fault, which may or may not match the police report.”

Avoid saying anything that could jeopardise your claim; the less you say the better.

“Stick to conversations about insurance details,” Fenner added. “Trying to discuss or analyse the crash may compromise your claim.”

GET YOU AUTHORISATION IN WRITING

Never go ahead with repairs to your vehicle on your own; the insurance company will ask you to submit three quotes or may refer you to one of their approved panel-beaters. Also make sure that that the insurer has accepted liability before going ahead with repairs.

Get that authorisation in writing and ask the insurer or your broker to email you the confirmation.

“It#s important to note that the more expensive your car, the higher the excess will be,” cautions Fenner. “More affordable cars, such as a Datsun GO, will be much more affordable to insure. Furthermore, when you sign up for insurance, you can reduce the cost of your premiums by increasing your excess payment.

“If you are a careful driver, or drive infrequently, you may want to consider this.

“Of course, the best case scenario is to save enough money in an ‘emergency’ bank account to cover your excess in the event of an collision. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but it will also keep your budget intact in case of a crash – no matter who is at fault.”

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