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What to do after a car accident

The 6 main steps to follow if you’ve been in a car accident, including how to get in touch with your car insurer.

Knowing what to do after a car accident can be overwhelming, but follow these 6 simple steps and it'll be a lot easier for you and anyone else involved.

Steps to take after being involved in a car accident

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1. Secure the area

A car accident can be a real shock to the system, but being as calm as possible will only help you. First things first, you'll need to stop safely. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you or anyone else require medical assistance? If anyone is injured, call 000 immediately for an ambulance.
    • Apply first aid, if you know how to, and make the person comfortable
    • If spinal or head injuries are suspected, don’t move them under any circumstances and wait for the ambulance to arrive
  • Is the surrounding area safe? Make the area safe to prevent another accident from occurring. Secondary accidents account for many of the accidents that occur on Australian roads.
  • Is the car safe? Make sure that there are no hazards such as leaking fuel or debris lying on the road.
  • Is the car still running? Make sure engines are switched off.
  • Can you move the vehicles? If it’s safe to do so, you should move the vehicles involved in the accident to the side of the road and put on your hazard lights.
  • Have you called the police? Call the police if someone has been injured or if there is third-party property damage where the owner is not present. The police should also be notified if there is any suspicion of drugs or alcohol being involved in the accident.

Finder survey: How many Australians have used dashcam footage as evidence in a car insurance claim?

Response
No - I have never had to make a claim55.27%
No - I had to make a claim but didn't use dashcam footage34.99%
Yes5.17%
I don't own a car4.57%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1006 Australians, December 2023

2. Collect details and information

The next step is to exchange details with other drivers involved in the accident. Details you should exchange include:

  • Full name
  • Residential address
  • Mobile phone number
  • Driver's licence number
  • Registration number
  • Insurance details (including name of insurer and policy number).

Ideally, you’ll have a notepad and pen in your glovebox for this purpose. You could also take notes on your phone. Some insurers also now have mobile apps to help with the accident-recording process.

If you have your mobile phone, take photos of the accident scene. As well as the scene itself, these pictures should include the damage to your car, damage to other vehicles and any third-party property damage.

3. Call your insurer

If possible, call your insurance company from the accident scene. They will be able to talk you through the process and advise you of your next steps. You will usually be advised to not admit liability to anyone.

This is because you may be in a state of shock or may not be fully aware of the circumstances of the accident. It is not up to you or anyone else at the scene to determine if an accident's your fault. This should be left to the police and car insurance companies to decide at a later date.

Even if no one is hurt or the damage is only minor, you should still report an accident to your insurer. This is in case the other party involved decides to make a claim against you, or you develop an injury or discover further damage to your vehicle at a later date.

Claims contact numbers for some Australian car insurance companies

BrandContact number
1300 Car Insurance claims contact number1300 467 872
1cover Car Insurance claims contact number1300 885 996
AAMI Car Insurance claims contact number13 22 44
Toyota Car Insurance claims contact number137 200
Allianz Car Insurance claims contact number13 10 13
Apia Car Insurance claims contact number13 50 50
Australian Post Car Insurance claims contact number1300 885 996
Australian Unity Car Insurance claims contact number1300 734 729
BingleCar Insurance claims contact number1300 735 640
Budget Direct Car Insurance claims contact number1300 139 591
Bupa Car Insurance claims contact number132 480
Calliden Car Insurance claims contact number03 9006 1280
Catholic Church Car Insurance claims contact number1300 655 001
Cgu Car Insurance claims contact number13 24 80
Cil Car Insurance claims contact number1800 112 481
Coles Car Insurance claims contact number1300 265 374
Commonwealth Car Insurance claims contact number13 2423
Cota Car Insurance claims contact number1300 651 77
Elders Car Insurance claims contact number1300 554 184
GE Money Car Insurance claims contact number1300 885 996
GIO Car Insurance claims contact number13 14 46
Guild Car Insurance claims contact number1300 988 988
Ibuyeco Car Insurance claims contact number1300 558 225
Just Car Insurance claims contact number13 13 26
MHIA Car Insurance claims contact number1800 676 700 (After hours 1800 620 601)
Mitsui Sumitomo Car Insurance claims contact number1800 105 381
NRMACar Insurance claims contact number131 123
Ozicare Car Insurance claims contact number1300 360 066
Qbe Car Insurance claims contact number1800 068 985
Raa Car Insurance claims contact number(08) 8202 4575
Rac Car Insurance claims contact number13 17 03
Racq Car Insurance claims contact number13 7202
Ract Car Insurance claims contact number13 27 22
Racv Car Insurance claims contact number13 19 03
Real Car Insurance claims contact number13 19 48
Resilium Car Insurance claims contact number131 437
Sgic Car Insurance claims contact number133 233
Shannons Car Insurance claims contact number13 46 46
Suncorp Car Insurance claims contact number13 25 24
Swann Car Insurance claims contact number1300 657 318
TIOCar Insurance claims contact number131 TIO
Tokio Marine and Nichido Car Insurance claims contact number1800 229 272
Vero Car Insurance claims contact number1300 888 073
Virgin Car Insurance claims contact number1800 662 884
Westpac Car Insurance claims contact number1800 502 077
Wfi Car Insurance claims contact number1300 934 934
Everyday Car Insurance claims contact number1300 10 1234
Youi Car Insurance claims contact number1300 253 403
Zurich Car Insurance claims contact number1800 019 774

4. Take care of your vehicle

If your vehicle is damaged, you will need to determine whether it is roadworthy before driving it away from the scene of the accident. Damage may be obvious in the form of a flat tyre or punctured radiator, but other damage may be harder to determine, such as steering or brake problems. Check your vehicle over thoroughly before driving it. If there is any doubt about its roadworthiness, do not drive it away from the scene.

If your vehicle is not driveable, tow trucks attending the accident may try to convince you to let them take your vehicle to a panel shop they are affiliated with. Do not let yourself be talked into anything you don’t understand or trust. Under no circumstances should you sign a contract, as it may be committing you to having your vehicle repaired at a particular panel shop.

Ask your insurer what you should do. You will generally be directed to an approved panel shop, which the tow truck should take your vehicle to.

Police Assistance Line

If your vehicle requires towing from an accident where the police were not called to attend, you must report the accident to the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 within 24 hours of leaving the crash site. Failing to do so could lead to you being fined, getting demerit points or worse.

5. Making a claim

The final step after an accident is to make a claim with your insurance company. If your vehicle was towed to a panel beater approved by your insurer, repairs will usually be authorised fairly quickly.

On the other hand, if your vehicle is driveable after the accident and only needs minor repairs, your insurer may require you to obtain at least two quotes (sometimes three) from different panel shops, from which they will choose the lowest quote.

Whether you choose to make a claim at all will depend on the cost of repairs compared to any excess you must pay (the amount you must contribute to a claim) and the effect a claim would have on your no-claim bonus. Many people choose not to make a claim on repairs under $1,000 for these reasons.

6. Post-accident recap

The main things to ensure after an accident include making sure:Police

  • The area is secure and everyone is safe
  • Those who are injured are attended to and an ambulance is called
  • The police are called if necessary
  • Your insurer is contacted as soon as possible
  • Everyone involved exchanges information.

Receive a quote for car insurance

1 - 7 of 24
Name Product Roadside assistance Accidental damage Storm Choice of repairer Agreed or Market Value
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: The 2023 winner of our Best Features Car Insurance award. Plus, it's one of the only insurers to automatically include roadside assistance.

Who it might be good for: Those who want good customer service with lots of inclusions.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary: Our data shows it’s the cheapest comprehensive policy. It just covers the basics such as damage to your car, theft and storms – it doesn’t go in for add-ons and extras.

Who it might be good for: Those wanting a low-cost, no-frills policy.
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: The 2024 winner of our Best Value Car Insurance award. It's cheaper than most, plus you can lower costs by adding age restrictions.

⭐ Current offer: 15% off your first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Anyone who wants a good value policy.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You need car insurance so why not get one that lets you earn Qantas Points? It's good value too (it's underwritten by the same insurer as Budget Direct).

⭐ Current offer: Earn up to 40,000 Qantas Points with every car insured by 2 July. Plus save 15% on your 1st year's premium when you purchase online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who want more bang for their buck with Qantas Points.
Australia Post Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Covers a little more than other insurers. You don’t need to pay an excess for windscreen repairs and cover applies to anyone who uses your car.

⭐ Current offer: Get $100 off your first year's comprehensive car insurance premium when you buy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Multiple people using one car.
ROLLiN' Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: One of the most cost-effective insurers for under 25s, according to Finder research, with no aged-based excess.

Who it might be good for: Young drivers looking to keep costs down and anyone who’d like to get more flexibility from their car insurance.
QBE Comprehensive
Green Company
QBE Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Our best-rated Car Insurer for Customer Satisfaction in 2021/2022 and Green Insurer for the last 3 years.

⭐ Current offer: Save $75 when you purchase a new comprehensive policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Those who want a trustworthy insurer and more cover than other brands, such as 3-year new car replacement (e.g. they'll give you money for a new car for up to 3 years if yours is written off).
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Picture: Walter, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)
Picture: Highway Patrol Images, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    LauraMay 5, 2018

    I was sold a new car from the dealership, with apparent insurance coverage, roadside assist, and warranty for the next 7 years. I have contacted them endlessly in order to get information as to what coverage and what insurance, and they have not ever responded. How do I report a vehicle for hitting mine?

      AvatarFinder
      JeniMay 6, 2018Finder

      Hi Laura,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Were you able to get the other driver’s details? If not, to help ensure the success of your claim, you’ll need to gather as much evidence as you can. There are several steps you can take to try to track them down, including:

      • Recording a description of the other vehicle and its driver
      • Asking witnesses for their names and contact details
      • Reporting the matter to the police and obtaining an incident report number
      • Checking if any nearby businesses or homes may have captured CCTV footage of the incident
      • Taking photos of the accident scene

      Please contact the business to explain the problem and the outcome you want. In many cases a simple phone call or visit can fix the problem. It is a good idea to write a complaint letter — that way, the seller is clearly aware of the problem and what you want, and you also have a record of your contact.

      If you are still having difficulty resolving a problem, you may want to seek assistance. The best place for where to go for consumer help will depend on your circumstances.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

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