How to prepare for a car accident before it happens

Car accidents take place all of the time, so drivers should learn about insurance claims and important information to stay prepared.

While not all people in Illinois will be involved in a car wreck this year, chances are at some point in a driver's life a collision will occur. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 296,049 motor vehicle crashes in 2014. Less than 1 percent of these crashes resulted in a fatality, yet car accidents can upend a person's life. Preparing ahead of time may make the experience easier.

Understand your insurance coverage

One way motorists can prepare for a crash is by learning about their insurance. For example, details about what type of damage is covered, and what out-of-pocket expenses could be expected can be found in the policy. An insurance agent should be able to review these factors, as well as other relevant clauses in the document.

Drivers should familiarize themselves with their insurance provider's claims process as well. If a car wreck does happen, this knowledge will help eliminate surprises for the driver. Getting this material may also help a person better understand what the insurance company will want to know about the incident.

Make important information easy to find

Some car crashes result in injuries. If a driver is incapacitated, he or she may not be able to give the first responders important details about an emergency contact or medical history. People should therefore keep some facts in their glovebox. A driver may want to include the following:

  • A list of current medications
  • Insurance policy provider and number
  • Name of primary care physician
  • List of medical conditions

If this material is easy for emergency responders to access, they may be able to provide better care for those involved in the accident.

Know what facts to gather

Drivers should also learn what information to gather related to the collision. For example, details about the other car, such as the make, model, color and year, may be important during the claims process. This is especially good data to try to remember if the other party involved left the scene of the incident. The other driver's name, address, insurance policy number and driver's license number is also important to know.

Getting details from those directly involved in the wreck is not all that should be done. Both parties may want to get names of the passengers in either vehicle and statements from witnesses to the crash.

It may be impossible to plan for a car accident in the Chicago area, but vigilant drivers should know what they can do in case of a collision. When a crash does take place, it is always helpful to talk with a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the process.