How to be prepared for and respond to a vehicle accident

fender bender - safety triangle

No one wants to be in an auto accident, yet on average, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than 6 million police reported auto accidents in the U.S. every year. If you were involved in one of those accidents would you or your employees know what to do? How you prepare ahead of time, and how you react afterwards, may help protect you and your interests.


Be prepared

Breakdowns and accidents are unexpected and often stressful situations, so it’s good to be prepared for anything that could go wrong while out on the road.


Do you have or carry these necessary emergency items?

  1. A basic first aid kit
  2. Pen and paper
  3. Mobile phone with camera
  4. Information about any medical allergies or medical conditions requiring special attention
  5. Important contact information
  6. Warning triangles, emergency flares or cones
  7. Flashlight and extra batteries
  8. Booster cables
  9. Small tool kit
  10. Work gloves
  11. A tire pump and tire pressure gauge
  12. A towel and hand wipes
  13. Thermal blanket
  14. Fire extinguisher
  15. Reflective jacket or vest
  16. Duct tape

Do you have insurance policy information?

  1. Keep important insurance information in your glove box:
    • A copy of your current insurance ID card
    • A business card from your agent or broker

After an accident

What to do after a vehicle accident The moments after an accident can be hectic and stressful. Stay as calm as possible and:

  1. Stop. Never drive away from the scene of an accident – even a small one.
  2. Turn on your hazard lights to advise other drivers.
  3. Do not get out of your vehicle if it is unsafe to do so.
  4. Call 911. Tell them where you are, what happened and if anyone appears to be injured.
  5. Follow any instructions given to you by the 911 dispatcher.
  6. Do not move anyone that is injured.
  7. Do not move your vehicle unless you need to for safety reasons.
  8. To further enhance your safety, set out flares, cones or warning triangles if you can safely do so. If it's dark, you should have a flashlight to also help keep you safe.
  9. Be polite and courteous and do not admit fault. Do not discuss the accident with anyone but the police, your agent, or insurance company. Do check to see if everyone in the other vehicle(s) need medical attention.
  10. If it is safe to do so:
    • Assess the damage; Walk around the vehicle and review any damage.
    • Take pictures.
      • Position of vehicles before being moved
      • Photograph the damage to each vehicle involved in the accident.
      • Show the overall context of the accident.
      • Photograph any license plates involved.
      • Also take photos of the scene, the road conditions, any traffic signs and the direction each vehicle was traveling.
      • Avoid taking pictures of injured parties.
    • Make an accurate record
      • Obtain vehicle and driver information from everyone involved. Write it down on a Markel Incident Report Form https://www.markelinsurance.com/~/media/specialty/claims/incident_report_form.pdf
      • Or record pertinent information on your phone:
        • Names
        • Addresses
        • Telephone numbers
        • Any witnesses, people, and vehicles involved
        • Make a note of how many people are passengers in each involved vehicle. Are any of them children?
        • Insurance name, policy number, insurer's phone, and agent's contact information for all drivers involved
        • Provide this information about you to others involved in the accident
        • Vehicle(s) involved:
          • Make
          • Model
          • Year
          • Color
          • VIN
          • License plate number
      • To the best of your ability, document the facts of what happened
        • Exact location of the accident including or street signs or landmarks to identify accident location
        • Your speed
        • Date and time of accident
        • Weather, road, and visibility conditions
        • Any contributing factors to the accident such as obscured traffic signs
        • The direction you were traveling
        • The direction the other vehicle was traveling
        • Time police arrived
        • Name of responding police department, officer name and badge number
        • Police report number (and find out how to get a copy of the police report)
        • Damage to your vehicle. (If your vehicle is unsafe to drive, arrange for a tow.)
        • Any damage to other vehicles
        • Damage to property other than vehicles

Download and print a convenient card for your vehicle's glove box for reminders and note taking in the event of an accident


After you leave the scene

  1. Do not sign any paperwork from the other driver's insurance company or attorney until instructed to do so by the Markel Claims department
  2. Promptly report the accident as you have been directed per company policy. The accident must then be reported to your agent and/or to Markel Claims as soon as possible by either:
  3. Promptly follow up with Markel claims to:
    • Provide any accident-related correspondence you receive, including
      • Incident reports
      • Statements
      • Bills
      • Letters
    • Include your policy number and claim number on each document
  4. If you receive any type of legal papers, immediately call Markel Claims. If possible, fax the documents to Markel Claims at 855-662-7545 or email a copy to markelclaims@markel.com.

fender bender - safety triangle
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us at losscontrol@markel.com or your attorney if you have any questions. The article may not be linked to, copied, reproduced, republished, posted, or distributed in any way by non-policyholders of Markel®, without permission.