If you are one of the 5 million people who has the misfortune to be involved in a car accident over the next year, you may not be sure exactly what steps to take to protect yourself. Car accidents are rare enough events that most people don't have top-of-mind awareness about what information needs to be exchanged. Plus, the stress, confusion and high emotions of the event can be a recipe for problems. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) conducted a survey to find out if consumers know what to do, and they learned most people don't. Here were some common misconceptions and associated risks:
- Nearly 40% of respondents felt they should share their driver's licenses, some allowing the other driver to photograph their licenses. The risk is that many retailers accept driver's license information as a common way to verify identity over the phone.
- 25% of consumers would share their home addresses. The risk: this information gives potential identity thieves the physical location of one's mail or garbage, a place often searched for further financial information; It also means potential criminals know where you live, putting your personal safety in jeopardy.
- Almost 30% of drivers think they are required to share their personal phone numbers. This is not necessary.
- Close to 20% believe the only reason to call the police after an accident is if someone is injured. However, filing a police report can help facilitate the insurance claims process.
Car Accidents: there's an app for that!
NAIC offers a WreckCheck mobile app that takes the guesswork out of a post-accident information exchange. When you download the app, enter your vehicle information and info about your agent and insurer. If you are in an accident, launch the app, which will guide you through a step-by-step process to create an accident report. It also offers tips for staying calm, safe and smart on the road, and makes it easy to capture photos and document the necessary information to file an insurance claim. Additionally, the app lets you email yourself a completed accident report directly, as well as to your insurance agents.
The app is free and available for both iPhone® and Android® smartphone users.