Car accident checklist
Use this checklist to help you navigate the scene of the accident and ensure you have everything you need to file a claim. You can also jump to a specific section for more information using the links below.
Make sure you and your passengers are OK, as well as the other driver and their passengers.
If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road.
Dial 911 and wait for the police to arrive.
Provide the police with the facts of what happened — do not admit fault or point blame.
Swap contact and insurance info with the other driver and take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and others.
File a claim with your insurance company or the other driver's insurance company, depending on the details of the accident.
Key steps to take after a car accident
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, wait for the police to arrive, and answer any questions so the officer can file an official police report. In some states, calling the police is required by law.
- You'll likely be asked to provide your driver's license and insurance information as part of the standard law enforcement procedures.
- Ask for the name and badge number of all officers you engage with, as well as where you can get a copy of the police report. Your insurance company may request a copy of the report if you file a claim.
- 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. Don't admit fault
- It's important not to admit fault when providing information to the police because your admission could be used against you in a lawsuit filed by the other driver. Their insurance company may also use it against you if you end up filing a claim with them. Plus, it's possible you weren't at fault — it can be extraordinarily difficult to know exactly what happened in the moments after an accident.
- If you suspect you were at fault, it's best to simply state the facts, such as which direction you were going, your speed, and any other pertinent details.
- If you believe the accident wasn't your fault, the same logic applies. Don't point blame; just state the facts.
- Your insurance company's adjuster or claims representative will investigate the accident and determine who's at fault. Note that the process of determining fault may vary by state and insurer.
5. 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 vehicle 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.
6. 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.
- Many insurance companies give you the option of filing a claim online, over the phone, or through their official mobile app. 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, including scheduling repairs or answering any questions you have.
How to file a claim with Progressive
What should I do after a minor car accident or fender bender?
If you're involved in a minor 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 the accident was your fault, 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. Check with your insurer for more details.