Car accidents can be scary. And DISRUPTIVE. They tax our time and wallets and can feel a lot like getting over a cold — even when it’s over, it’s still not over.

Because honestly, if it isn’t the accident itself, it’s all that comes afterward. Repairs. Car rentals. Your insurer (hey, we get it). Sometimes you even have to buy a new car.

In fact, an Esurance report found that 35% of respondents had to deal with a “totaled” vehicle. That’s when repair costs surpass the car’s value. Then your only option is to have it replaced. And that’s a whole process in itself.

Your average driver will be in 3 to 4 accidents in a lifetime. And truth be told, many of us make the whole thing a lot harder on ourselves than it needs to be. Here are some ways to minimize the stress so you can pick up right where you left off, ASAP.

1. Call the police

If you’re in a more serious accident, having police on the scene is especially useful. For one, they can restore order, particularly if passions are high and the situation gets out of hand.

More importantly, they can document the who, what, and where of the accident. That official police report helps backup your account, substantiates any injuries — and speeds up the claims process, ensuring you get the payment you deserve.

2. Seek medical attention

Another reason to call 911 is to receive immediate medical attention if you were hurt during the accident. Of course, when your adrenaline’s through the roof, injuries and trauma can be easily overlooked. So if you were just jostled around a bit or have seemingly minor bruises, make sure you book an appointment to have your doctor check you out. Always better to be safe.

3. Don’t apologize

You’re a good person, so it can feel weird — and maybe even unnatural — not to apologize. But saying sorry in the wake of an accident could imply fault. And it might not actually be your fault.

Details may emerge that you weren’t aware of. Maybe witnesses saw the other driver texting while driving. Or the driver was under the influence.

All you have to do is state the details of the accident as best as you can. The police and your insurer will objectively determine what’s what.

And if you’re wrongfully found at fault? You have a right to dispute it. Who knows, you could even reverse the ruling.

4. Snap photos of the scene

Alongside a police report, having photos of the accident can further support your side of the story. So while it might not be an “Insta-worthy” moment, the aftermath of an accident’s a good time to pull out your phone and take pics.

Make sure to take long shots of the entire scene and close-ups of the damage. Also snap photos of any skid marks, debris, and other tell-tale signs of the accident. If you’re not too shaken up, film the scene and narrate as you go along.

Also, if you did sustain injuries, take photos of them a few days later. Bruises, for example, might not show up immediately and swelling can increase over time.

5. Document everything

And we mean everything. Driver and passenger names. Their contact info, insurance companies and policy numbers. Note the make and model of all vehicles involved. Get the badge number of the officer on scene and the contact info of any eyewitnesses.

It’s worth noting too that sometimes the police can’t make it to the scene. So having detailed information in lieu of an official report can be super helpful.

6. Make a claim

If you’re an Esurance customer, you can file a claim from Esurance Mobile, our free app. Or just give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). We’re on standby 24/7. You can also use our photo claims feature. Just snap a few photos and get that claim settled quickly.

Not an Esurance customer? See how much you could be saving on car insurance with a fast, free quote.

Car insurance 101 | Car safety


about Evan

From writing content for life coaches to working on indie film press releases, Evan’s motley repertoire has been considerable in the last couple of years. Now he employs his varied aptitude as a content writer for Esurance. He’s also a self-proclaimed polyglot in training with a proclivity for dog-eared books.