What should your business drivers do during a crash to ensure you handle claims effectively and efficiently? A clear and well-communicated incident process will fast-track claims and ensure your vehicles are quickly back on the road.
Ofspecialists, Mark McKenna advises that providing your insurer with key information quickly gives them the best chance to defend your position while keeping third-party costs to a minimum.
Preparation is key
It’s important to enforce a crash reporting and investigation process for all incidents, and as such, your company policy should guide all drivers through their responsibilities following a crash. Each incident should also be reviewed internally to establish the cause and what can be done to prevent a similar occurrence.
Ensure your drivers access appropriate documents in their glove compartments, such as the fleet insurance ID and phone number, vehicle registration details, and a copy of their medical information should they require special attention in a serious incident.
Emergency kits should also be readily available, containing items such as road flares or warning triangles, flashlights with working batteries, first-aid kits, basic tool kits, pen and paper, and perhaps even an incident report form ready to complete if your provides one.
At the scene is the best time to record details of the incident if you want to fast-track claims and hopefully also take photos for evidence. It may be the only chance to get full information about the facts or details from the parties involved, especially if the police have not been called.
Managing the crash scene
There should be a set procedure that your drivers are aware of following in the event of a crash. Here are some guidelines for what these should include:
- STOP. However small the incident, do not leave the scene without speaking to the other driver. It is an offense not to stop.
- Safety First. Ensure that the scene and everyone involved are safe. If there are no serious injuries, it is important to move the vehicles and occupants safely to the road’s side, away from traffic, until assistance arrives. Hazard lights should be turned on, and cones or warning triangles put up to alert on-coming traffic, if safe to do so.
- Call for assistance. If anyone involved in the crash is injured, you should call for medical help or need assistance in moving the vehicle. If someone is seriously injured, you should always wait for trained medical help before moving them.
- Contact the police. If it is not a minor crash, you should call the police, who will address the surrounding traffic and take notes for future records.
- Contact your employer. You should contact your employer or, if applicable, the insurance company as soon as possible to notify them of the incident.
Drivers should be aware that it’s important not to admit fault immediately but remain polite to anyone involved and wait for this to be determined later.
Documenting the incident
These days many drivers will have cameras on their phones, which they can use to take pictures as evidence at the scene. Photos will help explain the crash’s context, so your drivers should know the importance of doing this if they have the means available.
In the event of a non-serious injury, the driver should take details such as the incident’s location, date, and time using a notepad or incident report form. Details of those involved, how many passengers are in each vehicle, contact information, descriptions of cars and number plates, pedestrians or witness facts, the cause of the crash, and a detailed description of the damage caused to vehicles and individuals. It is also worth noting any relevant weather and street conditions if the police were notified and providing a rough scene sketch.
Processing and fast-tracking the claim
Depending on the severity of the injuries caused, submitting an incident report form should be the driver’s top priority. It allows adjusters to immediately investigate the facts, particularly while facts are still fresh in people’s minds. This also means that the damaged vehicle can be repaired and back on the road as soon as possible with minimal downtime and costs accrued to the business.