What to do after a car accident

I’ve had a car accident… now what? Here's a step-by-step car insurance and accident guide.

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Have you been involved in an accident and not been sure what to do? This guide provides a list of steps to follow if you’re ever in a motor vehicle accident, from securing the scene to making a claim with your car insurance provider.

Steps to take after being involved in a car accident

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Secure the area

  • 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 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.

Collect 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.

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 fault, which should be left to the police and 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
1st for Women Car Insurance claims contact number1300 362 721
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
Best Buy Car Insurance claims contact number1300 304 341
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
Comminsure 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
Retirease Car Insurance claims contact number1300 304 345
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
Woolworths Car Insurance claims contact number1300 10 1234
Youi Car Insurance claims contact number1300 253 403
Zurich Car Insurance claims contact number1800 019 774

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 after leaving the crash site.

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.

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

Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: With Coles comprehensive car insurance, you could earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. Also, get up to $200 for damaged or stolen groceries.

⭐ Current offer: Get 10% off your first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Australia Post Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Australia Post car insurance offers comprehensive cover for things like theft, fire, new for old replacement and emergency accommodation and transport. Cover also extends to anyone who uses your car, not just you.

⭐ Current offer: Get $75 online discount + $100 gift card when you purchase by 11 July 2021. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: If multiple people use the one car and you don’t want to worry about listing all drivers.
Virgin Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Finalists for the 2019 Finder Awards for Best Value Car Insurance, Virgin Comprehensive provides a good level of cover for a decent price.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% off on your first year’s premium when you purchase a new eligible comprehensive car insurance online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to manage their policy online 24/7.
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Awarded the 2019 Finder Award for the Best Value Car Insurance, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost. Budget Direct's claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

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

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary:Bingle consistently comes up as one of the cheaper insurers out there. It only covers the basics. You don't get to choose your own repairer, you're not covered for personal items in the car and unless you add it as an option, you won't get a hire car if your car is stolen. But this keeps its premiums low.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low-cost option that covers them for the basics.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be with optional extras like choice of repairer and the option of agreed or market value.

⭐ Current offer: Earn Qantas Points for joining and paying your premium. Sign up today and earn up to 20,000 Qantas Points (points awarded will be based on your premium). T&Cs and eligibility apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to earn Qantas Points.
Stella Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Stella’s a female-focused insurer. It'll cover you if your car is damaged as a result of domestic violence. It offers higher cover for baby gear than most, with up to $2,000 cover for prams, strollers and child seats.

⭐ Current offer: Get $50 cash back when you purchase online until 30 June 2021 using the code STELLA50. T&C apply.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a female-centred car insurance policy (it will cover men too).
Poncho Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: Poncho works like a monthly subscription – you pay monthly and can cancel and leave at any time. You can also list multiple cars and drivers under one policy, making it ideal for families and groups living together under one household.

Who it might be good for: People who want their car insurance month to month.
Huddle Black Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Huddle's black comprehensive is its cover with highest limits and exclusive benefits. It includes roadside assistance. You can also get up to $2,000 for emergency travel and accommodation and up to $30 million legal liability cover.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a 24/7 claims processing.
PD Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed
Finder's summary: PD comprehensive car insurance policy lets you buy, manage, and start your claims process online. It includes cover for emergency repairs up to $500 and free windscreen chip repair. Ability to customise your extras cover.

⭐ Current offer: New policyholders can enjoy 15% off on their first year's premium. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Those with low claims history and the only driver.
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Youi Comprehensive Car Insurance is one of the few providers to include roadside assistance in its policy. You'll also get access to YouiRewards which gives you discounts on furniture, parking and more. Youi also has a live chat feature on its site to talk through any questions.

Who it might be good for: People over 25 who want comprehensive cover with a focus on customer service.
Real Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Real Comprehensive Car Insurance provides similar coverage to other insurers for the important stuff like looking after your car if it's stolen or you crash. They're also one of the few insurers who offer a Pay As You Drive policy, so you might be able to save big if you don't drive much.

Who it might be good for: Those that don't drive much can take advantage of their Pay As You Drive policy.
ahm Comprehensive
Optional
Both
Finder's summary: ahm comprehensive car insurance lets you choose higher excess to reduce your premiums. Its Fixed Kilometre Plan can save you up to 30% compared to its standard comprehensive cover.

⭐ Current offer: Get up to 15% off when you purchase a new car insurance policy. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who drive less than 15,000 km per year.
QBE Comprehensive
Green Company
QBE Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: QBE is a sustainable insurance company and also Finder's Green Insurer of the Year 2021 award winner. This policy offers the highest level of protection available from QBE including three-year new car replacement.

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

Who it might be good for: Those that are looking for a more environmentally friendly insurance choice.
Woolworths Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Woolworths has some unique perks like a price-beat guarantee where it'll beat any current comparable comprehensive renewal notice if you're over 25. You can also get 10% off your grocery shop once a month and can add roadside assistance onto your policy for just $7.35 per month.

⭐ Current offer: Save up to 15% when you buy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Woolworths shoppers and those that want to take advantage of its price-beat guarantee.
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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 Customer Care
      JeniMay 6, 2018Staff

      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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