When was the last time that you were in a car accident? If it's been about ten years, then you're probably about due for one – the average American driver has an accident about once every ten years. The problem is that's often enough that you can expect to have at least a few accidents throughout your adult life, but it's rare enough that you aren't prepared when it does happen. The lack of preparedness can cause you to freeze in the moments and days after an accident. You may find it difficult to make decisions or find yourself at a loss for what to do next. Some advance planning can help you get ready to handle an accident before it occurs.
Find an App for That
Downloading a free or low cost smartphone app might be the ticket to helping you think clearly in the frantic moments immediately following a car crash. There are apps available for the most popular smartphone operating systems designed to help you navigate your way through the aftermath of a car crash.
Obviously, you'll want to download the app before you're in an accident (and not while you're driving!) Once you have it installed on your phone, you'll be able to enter in your personal information, emergency contacts, and your vehicle and insurance information. That way, if your mind is a blank after a crash, you'll still have the answers to all the questions you'll need to know at the ready. Apps like these also come with GPS tracking and checklists that will help you figure out what to do when after a crash. Some will even prompt you to take pictures of the accident scene or send you links to rental companies and collision repair shops.
Update Your Insurance
Have you been looked at the details of your insurance policy lately, or have you just been paying the premiums without thinking much about it? You should be reviewing your policy every time you renew your policy. How high is your deductible, and do you have money set aside to cover it in the event of an accident? If not, you may want to consider switching to a higher premium in exchange for a lower deductible, unless you can quickly set some money aside.
You should also check your rental car coverage. If your policy doesn't include rental car coverage, consider adding on a rider that does include it. You'll need a way to get around if your car is in the shop for a few days, or longer. This is also a good time to ask your insurer if you're eligible for any discounts or free or low-cost upgrades. If it's been a long time since your last accident, you may be eligible for a safe driver discount. Saving some money now will allow you to protect yourself more for the next accident on the horizon, either by allowing you to increase your coverage or allowing you to set more money aside for emergencies.
Scope Out the Local Collision Repair Shops
One of the most important things you'll need to know after a crash is where to take your car for repairs. Your insurer will most likely give you a list of approved shops, but if the accident was the fault of the other driver, you can take your car anywhere you want for repairs, regardless of the insurer's recommendations.
The best way to know if you like a repair shop is to have work done there. Don't wait for a major collision to have work done at a shop in your local area. Have a ding in the bumper from your teenage driver backing into the mailbox? Take it to a local shop and see if you like their work. Hail damage from the latest winter storm? Try out the auto body shop your friend recommended. If the average driver has an accident every ten years, that's a lot of time in which you'll accumulate dents and scratches on your car just through normal use. Use those minor flaws to test out local body shops and find one you like.
Knowing your way around the local collision repair shops, your insurance policy, and the steps to take immediately following an accident is the best way to ensure that you won't freeze when a car accident does happen. Make sure that you are ready for your next car accident before it happens.