Car Accident Claims – 2020 Guide (UK)

Having a car accident can be one of the worst experiences of your life. As well as being physically and mentally traumatic, you will also need to deal with the aftermath of the accident, including claiming on your car insurance and getting your car repaired or written off.

When the accident happens to be your fault, then it is quite normal practice to sort it out via your car insurance company.

In most cases, the only option open to you to make a claim is through your car insurance. However, if the accident wasn’t your fault, making a claim on your insurance can negatively affect your no claims bonus. A lot of drivers spend years building up their no-claims bonus because it can help to reduce their car insurance premiums. It would be a real shame to lose this benefit should you experience an accident that wasn’t your fault.

What to do when you’ve had an accident

Call your local emergency services

As soon as the accident occurs, if you are able to, you should call 999. This ensures that help can arrive on-site as quickly as it possibly can; whether you’re waiting for police, an ambulance, or even a fire service. When in doubt, speak concisely to the emergency operator, and let them know as many details as possible. This enables them to send out the right services to your location.

If for any reason, you are unable to call 999, then you should have a bystander do so. Calling emergency services is the very first action you should take, provided that you are in no danger and are able to do so.

Check injuries

Check yourself for any injuries, as well as your passengers. In the case that someone is actively bleeding, apply pressure to the wound until the paramedics arrive. Do not try to treat any other type of injury unless you or someone with you is trained in first aid. Injuries such as burns are often treated incorrectly, and dislocated limbs should be set by a professional.

Take a note of any injuries you or your passengers have suffered; you will need to know this information in case one or more of you make a car accident claim.

Be careful of what you say

While experiencing a car accident can be very shocking, you must remember to be careful about what you say to anyone else involved in the crash or to anyone witnessing the accident.

You should never admit fault for the accident or try to take the blame without understanding all of the circumstances.

Whatever you say to anyone at the scene could make things a lot more difficult later on when you are trying to claim on your car insurance.

Things to do at the scene of the accident:

  • Switch off the car engine and put on your hazard lights
  • Get out of the car when it is safe to do so
  • Do not leave the scene of the accident
  • Check that everyone involved is OK including drivers and passengers of other vehicles involved in the accident
  • Call the emergency services if anyone is injured and wait for their arrival

What details you should collect at the scene

In all accident cases you should ask for:

  • Vehicle registration number
  • Name and address of the driver
  • Name and address of the vehicle owner

Should someone have sustained an injury during the accident then you can ask to see the driver’s insurance certificate. If they don’t carry this with them they will have seven days to produce this by law.

It will also help you to record the names and badge numbers of any attending police officers. This makes it easier for you to reference witnesses when making your insurance claim.

Recording the events

Try your best to keep calm and note down your account of the accident. If you have a notepad you can record what happened. If you have a smartphone you can use a note-taking app or voice recording app to make some notes.

Include such details as:

  • The time and date of the accident
  • Your memory of what happened
  • Was anyone not using headlights or indicator lights
  • What the weather conditions were
  • Any injuries sustained to yourself or others
  • The vehicle damage sustained (take photos or a video recording)
  • The details of any witnesses or passers-by
  • The car make, model and colour of all other cars involved

Should the police get involved?

Whether or not you involve the police will depend on the severity and location of the accident. Having an accident in a car park or on the road outside your home don’t often need to be reported to the police if both parties are happy to deal with the accident privately.

If no one is hurt and your car has only sustained a few minor scratches or bumps, then you need to collect as much information as you can to make an insurance claim. The police need not be involved.

Collecting as much information as you can and swapping insurance details with the other driver(s) involved will make claiming for your car repairs much easier.

You should never leave the scene without stopping and assessing the damage. Doing this can be classed as a hit-and-run and will land you in serious trouble.

However, you are legally bound to notify the police of every car accident where:

  • One of the drivers directly involved failed to stop or to exchange details. Not handing over details is classed as failure to stop
  • Someone sustains an injury
  • There is damage to someone’s property
  • An animal is injured or killed

Should your car be so badly damaged that it is impossible to drive away from the scene or someone is hurt, then the accident will be classed as being serious enough for the police to get involved. You should call the police right away in this case.

Accidents on a major road or in a danger spot

Should your accident occur on a major road such as a motorway or busy link road that will obstruct traffic or be dangerous to other road users, you will need to contact the emergency services right away.

This is also true on quiet country roads where your car may be stuck in a dangerous position such as on a blind spot, or a bend in the road with little to no visibility or sufficient braking distance for oncoming cars.

Ask bystanders to switch on the hazard lights of their cars, to warn incoming traffic of the accident. The police will take over this duty once they arrive, and anyone who didn’t witness the accident will be asked to leave.

Removing your car from the scene

If you have a breakdown service such as the AA or RAC and your car can be fixed and made safe to drive away from the scene, then you will still need permission from the police before calling your breakdown service.

You will need to check your cover details as some breakdown services will not provide roadside assistance following an accident. Your policy may not include vehicle recovery from an accident scene.

The police may ask you to organise your vehicle recovery using one of their recommended companies. Many local police forces work closely with certain recovery companies used specifically for car accident scenes.

Reporting the car accident

Should you want to make a claim on your car insurance for repairs to damage sustained in the accident, then you will need to report your accident to the police to be able to get an accident report number.

You have 24 hours to report your accident to the police.

Reporting your accident is a way to give yourself some back up should the damage to your car turn out to be worse than you first suspected.

However, many drivers will agree not to report the accident especially if the damage is trivial. Regardless of this, you should always make sure to write down the number plate of the other car(s) involved just in case you are given any false contact details.

In the days after the accident

There are quite a few items on your to-do list following an accident. Start simple by following up with the police that you spoke to on the scene. You should continue filing an accident report. Even if the accident that you were in was small and no one came out of it with any lasting damage, it was still a car accident. If you’re making an insurance claim, the company you’re with is going to want to see the report.

Though you may have been checked over by paramedics on the site of the accident, you should still have a check-up by your GP; especially if you have any aches or pains that have continued after the initial accident. Some injuries cannot be detected straight away, such as small hairline fractures or injuries to the brain.

Dealing with you car insurance company

You will need to inform your car insurance company about your accident. Even if you don’t plan to make a claim on your insurance for any repairs, you still need to report any accidents as failing to do so could invalidate your current insurance policy.

Again, be careful when notifying your car insurance company. Don’t tell them anything about the accident that could be seen as an admission of liability for the accident.

Your insurer will ask you some questions when you notify them, but try to respond honestly but saying nothing that could imply you were responsible for the accident.

What to tell your insurance company

You should inform your insurance company of the following details:

1. The name and current address of the other party involved in the accident.

2. The registration number of the other party’s car.

3. A current phone number for the other driver – where possible, both a mobile and a landline.

4. The insurance details of the other party, including the company they’re insured with.

5. The approximate time and the exact date of the accident.

6. The weather conditions around the time of the accident.

7. How the accident happened, from your point of view, and the exact actions you took prior to the accident.

Being hit by an uninsured driver

Should you suspect that you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, then you can check on the Motor Insurance Database to see if the car is insured.

Check your car insurance policy to see if your policy includes any uninsured driver protection. If you are covered then it is worth claiming.

In the case that the other party does not have insurance, you should contact the police. It’s against the law for any person to be out on the road without insurance, and they will need to take control of this part of the situation. Your own insurance company will be able to assist you through the process for these types of cases.

Remember that your insurance company doesn’t have any obligation to get involved if the cost of the damages fall below your insurance excess. In this situation, you will be expected to resolve the case yourself and come to an agreement with the other driver.

Why your car insurance is not just about the price!

Choosing the right car insurance company and getting the right cover in place should be your main priorities over the cost of your policy.

Once you have found a trusted car insurance company with a good track record and good customer feedback, then you can carefully check out their policies to find the right one to suit your needs.

Only then should you take that policy and compare it with other providers offering the same level of cover to see how it compares on price.

Which level of cover do you need?

With car insurance, you have three basic levels of cover to choose from in the UK. These are:

  • Fully Comprehensive
  • Third-party cover only
  • Third-party, fire and theft

Here is how each level of cover works:

Fully Comprehensive insurance

Taking out a fully comprehensive car insurance policy will give you the best protection.

Many people think that taking a fully comprehensive policy will be expensive, but in fact, it can work out to be a lot cheaper than going for other levels of cover.

This is a bit of a quirk you can take advantage of and has arisen because a lot of car insurance companies believe that drivers with higher risk will choose lower levels of insurance to save them money.

A comprehensive policy covers you against:

  • Damage to any third party: If you drive into another driver’s car the damage to their vehicle will be covered.
  • Damage to your car: The cost of repairs to your car in an accident that was your fault.
  • Loss or damage caused by fire and theft: If your car is stolen or gets damaged during a break-in, is damaged by accidental fire or an intentional arson attack.
  • Accidental damage: For example, if a tree falls on your car or a wall or building falls down and damages your car.

Third-party only cover

Classed as the most basic level of cover available, third party only covers the costs of damage done to other people’s property – but not your own!

If you were to drive into someone, this level of insurance will cover their repair bills and compensate for any car passengers that receive injuries while travelling in your car.

You will be responsible for paying for any damages sustained to your car during an accident when the accident is your fault.

Third-party fire and theft cover

You may find a few car insurance companies will offer third party fire and theft cover for a very competitive price, especially when compared to fully comprehensive cover.

However, you must realise that this cover will not fully protect you and may not be as good as going fully comprehensive for the extra cover that it provides.

What does third party, fire and theft cover?

This cover protects you from:

  • Damage or injury you cause to another car, driver, passengers or property
  • Loss or damage caused by the theft of your vehicle
  • Damage caused by fire

If you are involved in a car accident you would have to pay to repair your own car yourself. Your insurance would only cover the damage you do to a third party.

However, this cover is better than third party only cover because you would be able to claim if your vehicle is stolen or is damaged by fire or arson.

How to find the best car accident insurance policy

Finding the best car insurance policy for your needs will be a combination of finding one that offers the best protection at the cheapest price possible.

By far the quickest and easiest way to find a well-trusted car insurance company offering a good policy to suit your requirements will be through searching a comparison website.

There are a few price comparison websites that you can use such as:

While using price comparison sites such as those listed above can be the best way to find a great deal, some people may find doing their own research this way a little overwhelming for some.

The alternative way to get yourself a good deal is to approach one of the more familiar and widely trusted car insurance companies directly.

The most popular car insurance companies

Here are some of the UK’s most popular car insurance companies according to Auto Express. Their 2018 Driver Power survey gave the following results for the companies that best looked after their customers when making a claim:

1. NFU Mutual

2. Police Mutual

3. Liverpool Victoria

4. Privilege

5. Axa

Extra cover you may want to consider

Your car insurance policy will clearly state what is covered but you may be given the option to add extra cover to your policy when you buy your policy.

You need to think carefully before adding on any extra cover as this may affect the final cost of your policy.

Added extra cover may include the following items and more:

  • Breakdown cover
  • Cover for driving abroad
  • Cover for lost or stolen keys
  • Legal cover
  • No claims protection

Make sure you check the fine detail of your policy because some of these extras may already be included. You need to work out whether it would be worth adding these to your policy.

Contact a personal injury lawyer

If your car accident case becomes too complicated for your insurance company to deal with, you may need to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to take on your case. Your personal injury lawyer will directly communicate with the insurance companies involved so that you don’t have to.

Talk to your friends and family for personal injury lawyer recommendations. A trusted and well-reviewed lawyer is exactly what you’re looking for, and they should have several testimonials immediately available for you to view on their website or social pages.

It’s a good practice to keep the numbers and details of several lawyers in your area.

Types of car accident claim

There are a large number of claim types that an individual can make when it comes to being in a car or vehicle accident. From road traffic accidents to personal injury, you should be aware of exactly what you can and cannot claim for.

Road traffic accident claims

There are many reasons that road traffic accidents occur. Some of the most common causes of this type of claim are the following: inexperienced driving, driving under the influence, bad weather conditions, and vehicle malfunctions. Road traffic accidents, or RTAs, are a standard type of claim for drivers to make.

They occur when a vehicle that is in motion crashes into another vehicle or object on the road. A good example is when a driver loses control of their car and collides with a stationary or moving vehicle. These types of accident are also called traffic collisions.

Whiplash injury claims

Whiplash is an extremely common form of personal injury following a road traffic accident or traffic collision. Whiplash occurs when the head of a person is sharply jerked from excessive force around them. The jolt that a car experiences when it collides with another object typically causes such shock and force that the driver’s head and neck are injured.

Whiplash can be a minor or a more severe injury, depending on the force of the collision. Symptoms can last for a long amount of time, and can cause dizziness, restricted mobility, and headaches.

Passenger car accident claims

Despite popular belief, it is not only the driver who can make a car accident claim following a collision. The passengers have as much right to an injury claim case as the other parties involved in the incident. Passengers can only make a claim if they were injured during the car accident because of actions one of the drivers took to cause the incident.

For example, if the other driver was driving under the influence when they hit the vehicle the passenger was in, and that passenger sustained something like a whiplash injury, they would have the right to a claim.

Claims that involve a car and another mode of transport

Stepping away from the idea of car-on-car collisions, there are several other types of vehicle accident claim that can be made where one party was in a car, and the other was using an alternative mode of transport.

Cyclists who are injured by drivers have the right to make a claim against the driver in question. The same can be said for motorcyclists. Passengers on public transport can also make injury and passenger claims, where relevant.

Fatal road accident claims

Fatal road accidents are just as serious as they sound. In these collision cases, a victim has sadly passed away due to injury and/or excessive force. The stress that comes from these types of situations is not something that a family member wants to be put through, especially in the case that there were other people in the car with the person who has died.

Claims lawyers can take away the strain of these cases for the parties involved by advising the effected individual(s) on exactly what they need to do. Fatal road accidents are horrific situations to be in, but there is help available when it is looked for.

Serious injury claims

Personal injury is one thing, but serious injury claims are made when the injury to the individual is life-changing or life-threatening. Common injuries include spinal injuries, head injuries, and even psychological injury where the person’s mentality has been affected following the accident.

A lot of the time, these cases can be resolved within typical road accident claims, but sometimes, an individual may need to make a serious injury claim instead. The best course of action any injured party can take is to ask for advice from their personal injury lawyer or their insurance company; depending on where the person in question is in the process of claiming against the other party.

Compensation claim cases

Finally, the last type of claim we will list here is the compensation claim. These are made by persons whose lives have been changed due to an injury, accident, or even medical negligence (which can be its own claim, as well!). Drivers and passengers can make compensation claims.

Even injuries that aren’t major can mean that the injured person is losing money because they cannot work. A compensation claim will enable the injured person to regain the money that they would lose while they cannot work. These types of claims are especially crucial for more seriously injured parties, where the injury from an accident has caused disability or long-term injury that will stay with the injured person for a large period of their life.

 Accident management companies

In cases where you want to protect your no-claims bonus or you are finding that process of making a claim difficult because of disputes coming from the other side, then using an accident management company can be an appealing option.

An Accident Management company will be able to take on your claim and manage the whole process from start to finish.

Basically, they will provide end-to-end service and will handle your claim on your behalf so you don’t need to get involved in a drawn-out dispute or have to cope with the stress of keeping up with all the paperwork involved.

You should still report your accident to your car insurance company so that they can record it for information purposes. This will help to prevent your insurance policy becoming void should you fail to notify them of an accident.

How car accident management companies work

If you suffer an accident and think you would benefit from the help of an accident management company, they will need to assess your accident details to make sure your case is worth taking on.

Should they be happy to take on your case then they will help you in the following ways:

  • They will collect all of the information and details of your accident
  • They will provide you with a replacement vehicle to drive while your car is off the road
  • Carry out a full inspection and damage assessment on the vehicle
  • Record any personal injuries you may have sustained as a result of the accident
  • Arrange for repairs to be made to your car
  • Recover all costs caused by the accident
  • Deal with any legal fallout through the at-fault parties’ insurance provider

Would you benefit from using a car accident claim company?

On the face of it, there are a lot of advantages to be gained from using an accident management company to deal with your claim, especially if the accident has left you in a state that has made it difficult for you to pursue the case yourself.

If you have been badly injured as a result of the accident you may not feel up to making the insurance claim yourself. Sometimes the extra stress and trauma caused by an accident are enough to cope with, so passing the paperwork on to someone else to handle for you can be a great relief.

In a lot of cases where the opposing party are disputing the events of the accident or are trying to pass the blame on to yourself, it can help to have an experienced accident claim company on your side to fight your battle for you.

The main advantages of using their services

The most obvious advantages of using a car accident management company include:

  • Eliminating the stress involved with making a claim for an accident that wasn’t your fault
  • No need to claim your car insurance
  • No loss of your no-claims bonus
  • No dramatic increase in your car insurance renewal costs
  • The reassurance of having a team of experienced legal professionals on your side

Legal assistance can also be arranged should you need it. This can help with recovering any lost earning or expenses caused by the accident and even any personal injury sustained as a result.

On top of these benefits, your car accident management company will deliver an end-to-end service that means seeing to all the necessary repairs to your car and providing you with a replacement car to use while your car is off the road.

The main aim of their service is to provide their customers with a low-stress experience making the whole process much more comfortable.

The downside of choosing a car accident management company

Just like most things in life, services such as these have their good points that can make them very valuable, but also carry a few negative downsides that you need to be aware of before you jump in and take up their help.

Hidden costs involved

While you may find the idea appealing that the car accident management company will recover all of the costs of the accident from the at-fault party, you need to make sure you read the small print to discover what hidden costs may be charged.

All accident claim companies will need paying for their time and they will take a percentage of what they win for you as their service charge.

But what is sometimes hidden away in the small print on your agreement or contract with them are a few extra costs that can impact on the final amount of money you get back at the end of the process.

Choosing a trusted company

Like a lot of other specialist claims companies, there has been a rapid increase in the numbers of car accident management companies on the market. This makes choosing a credible and trustworthy one a more difficult task.

Never choose the first company that pops up at the top of an internet search. Just because they come out at the top of a search doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best company to go with. It can just mean that they are very good at their SEO.

Again, never choose a company that has the flashiest marketing approach. Take your time to look around and compare their service history and customer satisfaction ratings.

Using an Accident Management company instead of your insurer – is it legal?

Choosing to use a car accident management company instead of going through your car insurance company to make a claim may sound a bit daunting – or even like the wrong thing to do.

While it may seem like a strange idea not to make a claim on your car insurance following an accident, it is perfectly legal and above board to use a service like this.

Using services such as these make it more manageable for you in a lot of cases, especially where the car accident wasn’t your fault.

If the car accident wasn’t your fault, you have the option of either claiming through your car insurance to get your vehicle repaired, or making a claim via an accident management company.

If the car accident was your fault, then you have no other option open to you. You need to claim through your own car insurance.

No insurance limitations

An added benefit of not going through your car insurance company to make a claim following your accident is that in most cases you will not be subjected to the limitations imposed by your regular car insurance policy.

This means that you will not be liable to pay any excesses and exclusions listed on your insurance policy before you can get your car repaired, such as replacement windscreen costs, or the cost of paying for a hire car to use while your car is off the road.

Your no-claims discount should also remain unaffected when using the services of an accident management company.

You are even given legal assistance as part of the service should you need it.

What about company car accident claims?

If you were driving a company car when you had an accident, there is little difference between claiming for a company vehicle or for your own car.

As long as the accident wasn’t your fault you can still use the services of a car accident management company to deal with your case.

There is no legal difference between claiming compensation for road accidents and injuries sustained as a result whether you own the car you were driving or not.

The driver at fault will be sued for compensation which will normally be covered by the driver’s insurance company.

Getting your car back on the road

Obviously, you will be anxious to get your car repaired and back on the road as soon as possible following your accident. However, sometimes car insurance companies can put all sorts of caveats or rules to follow into your policy.

This can include only having your car repaired at a specified car dealer garage, such as a registered BMW repair centre and only using genuine BMW replacement parts.

However, with a car accident management company it is your legal right to choose where you have your car repaired. So this means that if you know of a trusted local independent car repair centre that can perform your repairs, you have every right to choose their repair services.

A brief summary of car accident management company benefits

Just to make it easier for you, here is a summary of the benefits of using the services of a car accident management company:

  • There is no need to claim on your car insurance: Costs will be recovered directly from the at-fault driver’s insurance
  • You will have no excess to pay: Using an accident management company instead of your car  insurer means you do not have to pay your insurance policy excess charges
  • You will be given a replacement hire vehicle: You will get a replacement car to drive that is as near as possible a match to your own while yours is off the road being repaired
  • Manufacturer approved vehicle repairs: Your car will be repaired in full to its pre-accident condition
  • Legal Assistance if needed with any aspects of your claim: Recover any lost earnings and make injury compensation claims
  • All paperwork and administration is handled: You don’t need to stress over endless paperwork or form filling to process your claim as this will be completed on your behalf

What about fees and charges?

Car accident management companies, just like other legitimate claims companies, will operate on a system where they will charge you a fee for their services.

Their fee may be paid through the company taking a small percentage of the final payout awarded to you at the end of the claims process, or through paying a flat fee that is agreed upon before using their service.

Sometimes the company fees can be a combination of both a small percentage combined with a flat fee, but in most cases, this usually works out as a very reasonable amount to pay when you consider the amount of work they will be doing on your behalf.

It is up to you to look around to compare prices and services to find the right company to represent you. Make sure you check the small print very carefully to find any hidden costs or charges that may apply further down the line that can often not be obvious at the beginning of your claim.

Conclusion

Remember that you cannot legally drive a vehicle on the road without having car insurance in place.

It will save you a lot of time and money to find the right policy to suit your needs. However, simply choosing the cheapest quote possible may not give you the exact cover that you need.

Go fully comprehensive whenever possible to get the best coverage available from your insurance policy. It may work out much cheaper to go comprehensive rather than third party alone or third party, fire and theft.

You will usually be able to get your insurance cheaper if you can afford to pay for the policy upfront in one payment. Most insurance companies will charge extra for paying via monthly instalments – sometimes it can cost you up to 30% more when paying by instalments.

When asking yourself if using a car accident management company is for you, remember that the main benefit to you will be one of convenience.

You can gain great peace of mind knowing that your claim is in the hands of a team of insurance and claims experts, especially when you are not a position to handle the claims process by yourself – if you are injured for example.

However, weigh up the pros and cons, especially concerning the costs of taking up these services. Typical fees can be around 20% or more (plus a flat fee if applicable) so you need to know that it will be worth making the claim.