What to do after a car accident

The first step to take after a car accident is to determine whether anyone in your vehicle has been injured. If another car was involved, check on the other driver and any passengers. Once you've confirmed that everyone is safe, move the impacted vehicles to the side of the road, if possible. Then you can alert the authorities, gather information, and start the claims process.

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Steps to take after a car accident

Use this car accident checklist to help you navigate the steps to take after a car accident and ensure you have everything you need to file a claim.

1. Stay calm & check for injuries

Make sure you and your passengers are safe and uninjured. If there's another vehicle involved in the accident, check to make sure that the driver and any passengers are OK too. Accidents are stressful, but keeping a calm, normal demeanor will help you stay in control of the situation.

2. Move impacted vehicles out of traffic

If your car is drivable, move it to the side of the road or as far away from traffic as possible while still remaining at the scene of the accident. Warn oncoming traffic using your hazard lights and/or setting up road flares.

3. Call the police to report the accident

  • Dial 911 and wait for the police to arrive.
  • Answers any questions so the police officer can file a police report.
  • Provide driver’s license and insurance information.
  • Tell the police exactly what happened and stick with the facts.
  • Ask for the name and badge number of all officers you engage with.
  • Request a copy of the police report for your insurance company.

If the police can't get to the scene or aren't dispatched, exchange information with the other driver. You can usually file a report yourself at your local police station or department of motor vehicles instead.

4. Exchange info & take pictures

While the police report provides official documentation of the crash, always take your own pictures of the damage to your vehicle, as well as pictures of any other vehicles involved as a part of your car accident checklist. Gather images from multiple angles to show exactly where any impact occurred. These images can help your claims representative determine who's at fault in the accident.

Be sure to get the name, address, phone number, and insurance information of the other driver. If possible, swap other information such as car makes and models, driver's license numbers, and license plate numbers. If there are third-party witnesses at the scene, politely ask for their contact information.

5. Start the claims process

Regardless of who's at fault, it's a good idea to inform your car insurance company that an accident occurred. Keep in mind that it's your choice whether to file an auto insurance claim with your insurer or the other driver's insurer. You can also file a car insurance claim without filing a police report. Generally, your insurer just needs some basic information about the accident to open a claim, including any pictures you took of the damage. A claims representative will be assigned to you and will help you through the claims process.

You can file a claim through the Progressive mobile app, by logging in to your account online, or by calling us. If you're not a Progressive customer, you can also file a claim online as a guest or by calling us.

Learn about how to file an auto insurance claim and more about the claims process for auto insurance.

Pro tip:

Consider adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to your auto policy to help minimize your costs if you have an accident with another driver who doesn't carry auto insurance. In many states, uninsured motorist coverage is required for all drivers. Learn more about car insurance requirements by state.

What should I do after a minor car accident or fender bender?

If you're involved in a minor car accident with no injuries and minimal damage to either car, then you may choose not to file a claim or report the accident to the police. However, you should still exchange information just in case you or the other driver decide to file a claim later. For the same reason, you should also let your insurance company know about the incident.

Will my rates go up after I’m involved in an accident?

If it's determined that you were at fault for the accident, your rates will likely go up when your policy renews. However, you could avoid this rate increase if your provider offers accident forgiveness. Not all insurance companies charge you more for accidents that weren't your fault — but some do. Learn more about how accidents impact insurance rates.

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