Here’s what to do if you have an accident on the road, including exchanging details and reporting the incident to your insurer.
Unfortunately, most motorists will have to deal with being in a car accident at some time in their driving career.
It's a high-stress situation, but it'll be easier to navigate if you're calm, prepared and know what do and how to notify your car insurance.
If you have an accident, you must stop to exchange contact and car insurance details.
Unless it’s unsafe to do so, you must stop if:
If you don’t, you’ll be committing a criminal offence.
You must report the incident to the police as soon as you can, but it must be within 24 hours.
If you fail to stop or fail to report an incident, you could be fined, given penalty points or a driving ban, or even sentenced to six months in prison.
You should also call the police if you’re blocking the road.
Once you've stopped, the first thing to do is check whether you or anyone else is injured and get them the medical attention they need.
Call an ambulance and police immediately if anyone is hurt.
Don’t apologise when you stop. Saying 'sorry' may seem like a polite gesture, but it could leave you liable for the repairs.
Although saying sorry isn’t a legal admission of guilt, it could be used against you if you were to make a claim. Your policy may also state you can’t admit guilt at the scene of an accident.
Don’t point the finger either. Even if you know they were in the wrong, stay calm. Engaging in an argument at the side of the road might only make matters worse.
If you’re worried about sounding rude by not beginning the conversation with “I’m sorry…”, think about what you can do instead to help. For example, ask “Are you injured? Is everyone alright?” and offer to exchange details. It puts the attention on the other party and focuses the conversation on the practicalities, rather than playing the blame game.
Legally, there are certain details you must give at the scene of an accident.
If that’s not possible, give them to the police within 24 hours.
You need to share:
By law, you must do this if anything’s been damaged or if anyone’s been injured
That’s who you’re insured with and your policy number with other drivers
If anyone has been injured and someone at the scene has reasonable grounds to see it
Your home or mobile phone number and/or an email address
You can find this on your driving license or check it online using your National Insurance number
Get as much information together as you can.
It'll make it easier to provide evidence to your insurer if you claim.
Make sure you note down:
Always tell your insurer about an accident straight away, even if you don’t want to make a claim.
The other driver could make a claim against you so it’s best to let your insurer know your side of the story first.
Your insurer should now handle the claim for you. If you’re contacted directly by anyone else involved in the accident or their insurer, just ask them to contact your insurer instead.
You must either provide your name, address and vehicle registration number to anyone who might reasonably need them, or report the incident to the police within 24 hours.
You still need to exchange details or let the police know. Your insurer will need to be informed too, even if you aren’t planning to make a claim.
If you do want to claim you’ll still usually need to pay an excess, but your insurer might refund it.
Even if you know the accident was your fault, don’t say sorry or admit guilt at the scene as your insurer might have a clause about it.
Exchange details with the other’s involved and get in touch with your insurer to report the incident. You’ll need to pay an excess, but if you buy car insurance through us, we’ll refund up to £250 of your excess after your claim’s been settled.
This is usually called a ‘hit and run’ and is a criminal offence.
If the other driver can’t be traced or is uninsured, you might still be able to claim compensation. Check your insurance policy to see whether uninsured driver claims are covered or contact the National Accident Helpline for advice.
You’ll have a set period from when the accident happens to tell your insurer - it could be a few days or a couple of weeks. If you don’t, you could invalidate your cover.
You can find out how long you have in your policy documents.
You could have:
You’re legally required to tell the police if you’ve hit a horse, cattle, donkey, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog.
If it’s safe to do so, pull over. If you hit any animal and it's obstructing a road or highway, report it to the police.
Think the animal could be someone's pet? If you can, take it to a vet so it can be scanned for a microchip.
Try to stop near an emergency telephone (they’re about one mile apart and they’re usually orange). Using it will help the police or highway authority find where you are.
Put your hazard lights on, and get out on the left side (even though it’s a bit awkward for the driver). Move somewhere safe away from the hard shoulder. Any animals should be left secured in the car, unless it’s an emergency situation.
Up to £250 refunded after claim settled. Car insurance purchases only. Excludes breakdown, windscreen and glass repair/replacement. Full T&Cs apply.