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Automobile Accidents and Insurance Matters

Published October 30, 2020

California Department of Insurance Guidance to Consumers

According to Statista, California has the highest number of vehicle registrations in the United States. This fact translates into more than 15 million vehicles are traveling over the numerous freeway and interstate highways located within the state. Because of these vast numbers, it is essential to understand your automobile insurance and what to do in the event of an accident. The California Department of Insurance provides several important tips and other guidance, including a checklist, which provides the following:

Q. What should I do at the scene of an accident?

A.  STOP immediately and move only if it is safe to do so.

  • Call 911 if there are injuries.
  • Call the police. In some areas, police authorities may respond to every accident scene. They may consider factors such as the severity and location of the accident (some police authorities will not come to the scene if the accident is on private property).  However, you should attempt to notify the police.  You should also be aware that most policies require notification to the police within a specified time period if the accident is a hit and run.
  • Obtain names, addresses, telephone numbers, and driver's license numbers from all drivers. 
  • Obtain license plate(s) and vehicle identification numbers.  Ask to see driver's license(s) and vehicle registration(s) to verify the information is accurate.
  • Obtain names, addresses, and telephone numbers of other passengers and any witnesses.
  • If you have a camera or a cellphone, take photographs of the damage, and the accident scene (traffic controls, visual obstacles).
  • If the owner of a damaged car or damaged property cannot be located, leave a note with the names and addresses of the driver and owners of the involved cars.
  • Notify your agent and/or your insurance company immediately. 
  • If anyone is injured or the vehicle damage exceeds $750.00, you must report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. Failure to notify the DMV may result in the suspension of your driver's license.

Notably, you must show your driver's license, vehicle registration card, evidence of financial responsibility, and current address to the other driver or persons involved or a peace officer. Drivers should avoid arguing with other drivers or passengers; preserve your side of the story to your insurance carrier and the police.  The California Department of Insurance cautions not to sign statements regarding fault or promise to pay for the other parties’ damages, or any offers to pay your deductible. It also empathizes that consumers read their automobile policy upon purchase of it and be familiar with its terms and conditions.  For further information, contact the California Department of Insurance.