It’s hard not to panic after you’ve been in an accident. Even if it’s only minor damage, the initial shock is often enough to knock even the most confident driver off kilter.

Staying calm is crucial … so do that first. Then, once you’ve pulled over somewhere safe, use this handy 4-step checklist to help you stay safe and collect all the important accident-related info.

4-step accident checklist

1. Make sure everyone’s ok

You’ve pulled over and parked, but now what? First things first, take a deep breath and check in with yourself. Once you’ve determined you’re ok, get out of the car (put your flashers on if you’re on the shoulder of a road or not entirely away from traffic) and make sure all other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are not injured. If someone’s hurt, even if it appears to be a small bump or mild headache, call 911 immediately. To protect everyone involved, all injuries (including seemingly minor ones) should be evaluated by medical professionals.

2. Call the police 

Nobody injured? Good. Now go ahead and call the police. Yep, I said it. Even if it seems excessive and you desperately want to get on with your day, call the police first.

Even for minor accidents, a police report can be super helpful when submitting a claim to your car insurance company. Once they arrive, step back and let them work. Allowing police to assess the scene without interfering, admitting blame, or pointing fingers is key.

3. Get all the details 

Jot down all pertinent info. Or, if you’re an Esurance customer, you can use our app, Esurance Mobile, to save all your accident info.

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Snap photos of the scene and close-ups of the damage, and create a note with all the important details you may need when filing a claim, including:

  • Driver/passenger names and contact info
  • License plate number(s)
  • Insurance provider(s)/policy number(s)
  • Make and model of all vehicles involved
  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Contact info of any eyewitnesses
  • Name(s) and badge number(s) of responding law enforcement

While it’s important to have all the details for insurance claims, this info can also be extremely helpful if the police can’t make it to the scene (something that can happen when there are no reported injuries). If you need to file an accident claim at your local DMV, these details will be crucial.

4. File your claim

If you’re an Esurance customer, there are 3 ways to file your claim. You can call us from the scene at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262), visit esurance.com, or file it right from the Esurance Mobile app.

If you’re not sure who to call, check your insurance ID card for your insurer’s contact info.

The best way to protect yourself

This list should be able to help you navigate post-accident anxiety, but it’s equally important to be prepared pre-accident as well. The best way to prepare? With a reliable car insurance policy, of course. Get your free personalized quote from Esurance today.

Other ways to stay safe and be ready for anything out on the road? Have a well-stocked emergency kit in your car at all times, stay on top of maintenance to keep your ride running like a dream, and always pay attention to the road ahead.

Safe and smart | Car safety

about Jennifer

A Motor City native, Jennie spent a few years knee-deep in automotive before heading to San Francisco to join the Esurance team as a copywriter. In addition to words, she’s a big fan of running, Detroit Tiger baseball, and the Trader Joe’s cheese aisle.