Car accidents can be scary situations. After an accident, you’re likely shaken up, and the sudden appearance of helpful strangers or the confrontation of angry drivers can take you off-guard. However, you need to remember that insurance fraud is a real thing, and it happens every day. To help guard yourself against this all-too-common practice, it’s critical that you start documenting the accident.
Here are the steps you need to take to protect yourself from insurance scams. Remember, in an accident situation, the only irrefutable evidence is photographic evidence, so get ready to snap pictures.
After the accident, make sure you’re alright and that any passengers are okay. Once that’s settled, start taking pictures. Take pictures of everything in sight, from your car to the other cars involved, where they’re located in the street, the condition of yourself and the passengers in your car, and the weather and lighting conditions at the time of the accident. If you can, snap pictures of everyone at the scene who was involved in the accident. If they protest, stop photographing them, but continue taking pictures of their car and the surroundings.
Photographic evidence is irrefutable. It can’t be manipulated by bad memories or by time passing. The more pictures you take, the better.
Write down tons of notes for yourself before the police arrive. How many people were involved in the accident? Did the other driver or drivers have passengers in their cars? Write the names of everyone involved. If people are being uncooperative about giving you their names, request this information from the responding police officer when they arrive.
Be wary of anyone you don’t know approaching you after the accident. These “good Samaritans” could be scammers in disguise. If a tow truck rolls up before you’ve even contacted a trusted service, wave them off, as they could be trying to saddle you with a huge bill.
Likewise, if a friendly bystander approaches, suggesting you contact a particular doctor, lawyer or insurance agent, send them packing. These people are likely scammers and are trying to muddle the events of the accident immediately in the aftermath of what happened. Continue with your post-accident documentation and ignore this person. If they persist, photograph them and make a note of their efforts.
Once the incident has been documented by police, request the official police report with the officer’s name. This document makes scamming extremely difficult, as official police reports are typically exhaustive and leave little room for error.
Finally, should you suspect insurance fraud is taking place, alert your insurance company and share your documentation with them. This will help you protect yourself from scams.