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What to do if you’ve been in a car accident

5 minute read

Being involved in a car accident can be frightening and stressful, but it’s important to know what to do next. Keep calm and follow these steps.

Even for the safest drivers, a car accident can happen in the blink of an eye. In the moments following a collision, you may find yourself reeling and unsure of what to do. First, take a few deep breaths to calm down. Here’s what to do next:

People first

Whether it’s a minor fender bender or an accident between several cars, it’s important to check that everyone involved is OK. If anyone is injured, call 000 and do not attempt to move them unless they’re in danger.

Move to safety

If you can move your car, drive or push it off the road to reduce the risk of another accident occurring. Put your hazards on to alert other drivers and try to clear any large pieces of debris off the road if is safe to do so.

Report the accident to Police within 24 hours and record the incident number provided in case you’re asked to present it for insurance purposes later.

Get the details

This is where a smartphone can come in handy. If it is safe to do so, take photos of the cars involved and the other car’s number plate. Take photos of the scene of the accident and anything of note, such as water on the road. Conditions of the road including the weather are useful details for an insurer assessing your claim.

Exchange your details with the other driver, taking down their full name, address, phone number and their insurance details. Also take a photo of their license, front and back in case they have a change of address label.

Need a tow?

If you need a tow your first port of call should be your insurer. Most insurers can arrange towing on the spot for you and they will also be able to tell you whether you’re covered for the tow. Your car will be taken to a holding yard or an assessor of your choice where a report will be done on the repairs needed and your claim can get underway.

Cover for loss and damage

After an accident, the first thing on your mind is making sure all parties are safe. However, soon after this you’ll likely be thinking about making a claim to your insurer. What you may be covered for depends on what type of car insurance you have.

  • Comprehensive – Top level cover, that can cover your car and others’ plus extra protection for things like personal items in your car.
  • Third party property – This can cover you for the cost of damage to other people’s cars or property.
  • Third party fire and theft – This can cover damage to other cars, plus your car if it is stolen or catches fire.
  • CTP – Compulsory third party (CTP), also known as a green slip, covers you if you injure someone in an accident. As the name suggests, it’s compulsory.  

Car insurance policies can provide options for you to choose from for the level of cover you need. . But unfortunately, most people don’t keep their policy details up to date. The last thing you need in the event of an accident is to find out you’re not covered because you forgot to update your policy.

Things to consider updating include:

  • The value of your car – has it increased or decreased? In the event of an accident, you may not be covered for an adequate amount. 
  • Where you park – did you have a covered garage and now park on the street? If this isn’t reflected in your policy you may not be covered if someone backs into your car.
  • Inclusions – does your policy provide after accident care? Will it cover a hire car if yours is off the road for repairs? Do you have to pay an excess even if the accident wasn’t your fault?

If you’re unsure,  you should get in contact with your insurer to discuss your cover. You might even find you are eligible for a discount or a no claim bonus.

There’s a lot to consider and the truth is, no matter how careful a driver you are or how safe the model of your car, you simply can’t control all the conditions on the road. Sometimes things happen that are completely out of your control. So, if you do find yourself in the unfortunate event of an accident, it will be a relief to know that you took out the cover you need.

Chat to one of our local insurance specialists about motor vehicle insurance to help suit your needs today.

Car Insurance issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227681 trading as CGU Insurance. The advice on this page is general advice only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs (“your personal circumstances”). Before using this advice to decide whether to purchase the insurance policy, you should consider your personal circumstances and the relevant Product Disclosure Statement available from

The Capricornian Ltd | ABN 54 087 650 940 | AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 246780 acts under its own AFSL and under an agreement with the issuer Insurance Australia Limited trading as CGU Insurance ABN 11 000 016 722, AFSL 227681. Any advice provided is general advice only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs (“your personal circumstances”). Before using this advice to decide whether to purchase a product, you should consider your personal circumstances, the relevant the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination.

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