The sudden influx of snow in the GTA has no doubt taken a lot of drivers by surprise. The beginning of winter generally leads to an increase in accidents from a lack of preparedness in most drivers, but this winter, thanks to El Nino, we didn't even have to worry about snow driving until mid-January. Many drivers still don't have snow tires on their cars (after all, who wants to spend hundreds of dollars on them until it's absolutely necessary?), and as a result, are having trouble keeping control of their cars on the road. While we absolutely advocate putting snow tires on your car (our next post will tell you why), no matter how careful you are, accidents are inevitable. Most of us think we know how we'd handle ourselves in the chance of a collision, but since our first big snow storm a couple weeks ago, we've realized a surprising number of customers don't know what to do in the event of a car accident.
Get photos or sketches of the accident - Photos of the accident will help not only in establishing who was at fault, but will also help you remember what happened. When it becomes a case of he-said-she-said, having photo evidence of the collision will always strengthen your case.
Get a police report - This is one step that many drivers are either unaware of, or put off doing at the time of an accident. It is essential that you report your accident and wait for the police to arrive to write up a report. One customer called us last week and admitted that because her accident happened in the middle of a snow storm, neither she nor the other driver involved had decided to file a report at the time of the accident. Understandably, the idea of waiting in the middle of a storm is less than appealing, but in order to get an accurate report of the scene, and subsequently, a much simpler process of going through your insurance, the police must be informed of the accident at the time.
Don't sign anything - Whether it's a towing or a repair authorization, don't sign anything if you aren't 100% sure. Don't even let a tow truck driver touch your car unless you're absolutely certain you need/want it towed. Often, as soon as they hook up your car, even if you change your mind, they will charge you a fee of a couple hundred dollars just to release it. If you do choose to have your truck towed, again, don't sign a repair authorization because many towing companies are associated with a specific body shop. Unless you're aware of and okay with the shop where the tow truck will drop your car off, signing anything will only add stress to an already stressful situation.
Stand your ground - Call your insurance company to report your accident, but know that ultimately, where you take your car is your decision. Sometimes insurance companies will strongly encourage you to bring your car to one of their authorized body shops, and that's okay! Keep in mind though, in the moment you may think it'll be easier not to argue and then to later request to bring it to a different shop, but it can be incredibly difficult to get your car released from the first body shop. It's always your choice, but it's important to stand your ground if you feel you're being backed into a corner by anyone, whether it be your insurance company, your car dealership, the towing company, or even a body shop.
It's hard to plan for a potential collision, and nobody ever hopes to get in one, but knowing these steps in the unfortunate chance that you do get in an accident will help you keep calm in the moment and will simplify the post-collision process.