Recently, I was in the unfortunate situation of being in a 7 car accident on the freeway on my way to work. There was nothing crazy about that particular day of travel. There was a little bit more traffic than usual since I travel to work before rush hour. As brake lights started to pile up ahead, I had no problem stopping in time for the vehicle ahead of me in the left lane. But, that’s when I heard tires screeching behind me.
Before I knew it, I felt a hard slam and my car was lurching forward into the car in front of me. I was forced so hard forward that I flew sideways and was hit again. As I watched the ripple of cars in front of me hit cars in front of them, I realized I was holding my breath.
When I realized everything had stopped, the accident was over, maybe a total of 15 seconds at most had passed. It felt like forever. Immediately drivers exited their cars to make sure everyone was okay. I didn’t realize how shaken up I was until I got out of my car.
Looking at my car is what really did it to me. The back end of my brand new Ford Edge was caved in and the exhaust pipe was on the ground. The right rear side had a large dent over the back wheel. The front of my car was covered in dents. It was no longer drive-able.
I made a call to my husband to let him know I was okay and that he would need to come pick me up… eventually. And another call to my boss to let him know I wouldn’t be making it to work. As much as I was still pretty shaken up, it was crucial that these essential steps were taken in the next few hours and coming days.
- Take pictures of your vehicle and the vehicles around you. Also take a few pictures of the surroundings if you can. This will be helpful for the insurance company.
- Make sure to stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on, if possible, until the police arrive and you can clear the scene.
- Before you leave, the police officer should give you a card with an incident number on it. Also, if your vehicle had to be towed, the towing company should also give you a card with their contact information.
- Call your insurance company and make your claim as soon as possible. Make sure you use the incident number from the information the police office would have given you at the scene.
- Once you have a claim number from the insurance company, you can call a rental company to get a rental car set up as soon as possible. If you have coverage, and you use car seats, make sure they fit in what your insurance covers. If not, upgrading to the next size up is not that much more.
- Speaking of car seats, if they were in the vehicle that was in the accident, even if the children were not in them, they should be replaced. Most 5-point harness car seats mention this in the manual. The insurance company will likely reimburse you for comparable seats.
- Find out from your insurance adjuster what local collision shops are pre-approved by them. This makes the process much faster. The insurance company does not have to send one of their representatives to the collision shop to approve the repair estimate; they already work with that collision shop and trust that their estimate is accurate.
- If you insurance is set up like mine, you have a deductible but it gets waived if you are not at fault. The insurance company can only do so once a police report is obtained. Most times, it can be much faster for you to obtain a copy of the police report than it is for the insurance company.
- If your car is totaled, make sure you have gap insurance either through your insurance company or through your lease or financial institution. Ford leases automatically include gap coverage so regardless of what my insurance company decided to cover on the total loss of my vehicle, Ford Credit would have covered the remainder.
- Understand that the process will be frustrating but keep reminding yourself that you are lucky you are not hurt. It could have been worse, much worse.
Do you have any tips you would like to share? Please do. Also, please drive safely!